Reading is not a contest!

I was in a bit of a reading slump the first half of June. There were many books on my “want to read” (WTR) list, but books I thought I wanted to read kept making their way to the top of the waitlist at the public library and I had to check them out within seven days or go back to the bottom of the waitlist.

Last week I tried to come to grips with the lunacy of this habit of mine. Library waitlists were dictating what I was reading, while many books languished on my WTR list.

Since I can’t afford to buy very many of the books I want to read, I rely on two public library systems to make those books available to me.

59da32f012ac3e0001b9443f_Harrisburg Library
Harrisburg Branch of Cabarrus County Public Library System

Don’t get me wrong. I am a card-carrying supporter of public libraries. I have nothing but respect and love for public libraries; however, I can’t indefinitely ignore books on my WTR list while reading the newest shiny book that rises to the top of the library waitlist. It’s not the fault of the library or the system. It is my fault. I have put the cart ahead of the horse.

Sometimes by the time I get to the top of the waitlist, I can’t remember why I wanted to read the book in the first place. Did I read a glowing review of it? Did another writer recommend it as a good example of character development?

There’s also the matter of my inability to stay awake to read as long as I’d like. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has completely wrecked my circadian clock and my memory. I hope seeing a sleep specialist later this summer will result in some improvement in my sleep.

In an effort to find a piece of new advice to help me get on track with my WTR list, I read “Hot Reading Challenge Tips from Pros Who Read More Than 100 Books a Year.” The article was posted on June 21, 2018 on the www.Goodreads.com blog (https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1294?rto=x_gr_e_nl_general&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=june212018&utm_content=Voracious.Readers&ref_=pe_3097180_285823010.) Great timing!

Apparently, a mid-year reading slump is not unusual. I took encouragement from that. It’s not just me.

Goodreads.com asked four of their avid readers (persons who read more than 100 books-a-year) to give advice to the rest of us. My takeaways from reading this blog post boil down to this:

  • You don’t have to finish reading a book you aren’t enjoying
  • Read what really appeals to you, not what you think you “should” read
  • Reread your favorite book. It might get your reading juices going again.

I already knew I don’t have to finish reading a book I’m not enjoying; however, old habits are slow to die. I am a work in progress. If I’m going to blog about a book I’ve read, it helps if I’ve read the whole book.

In my January 8, 2018 blog post, 2018 Reading, Writing, & Living Plans, I stated that I would take a new approach this year. With nearly 500 books on my WTR list, I said I would concentrate on reading the books on that list.

As of yesterday, my WTR list had grown to 578 in spite of the fact that I’d read 32 books in the first 25 weeks of 2018. I read 63 books in 2017, so I’m on track to equal or surpass that number in 2018. WHOA! I can’t believe I just typed that. I can’t believe I even had that thought.

Reading is not a contest!

Note to self:  Reading isn’t a contest. The person who reads the most books doesn’t “win.”

Reading whatever I want to read is a gift I received by being born in and living in a democracy. Having the ability to read at all is a gift from God and my ancestors who valued books and education.

The numbers I’ve been keeping track of are an artificial measuring stick I inflicted on myself.

My first blog post each month is about the books I read in the previous month. That was my decision, but that in itself puts pressure on me to read, read, read. When June 15 arrived and I had not finished reading one single book during the month, I started feeling the pressure of finishing several books before June 30 so I’d have something to blog about on July 2. Why am I doing this to myself?

Indeed, why?

I’ll continue to read books on my WTR list. As I check those off the list, I’m sure I’ll keep adding books to the list. That’s just the way it is when you’re an avid reader. I’ll try to stop obsessing about the numbers, though!

Incidentally, my next blog post will be about the books I read in June. Those monthly blog posts are among my most popular. I plan to continue that schedule. I just hope I will not feel guilty if I only read one or two books in any given month instead of the four or five I’ve striven for over the past several years.

Thus far in June, I’ve read three books and approximately half of three others. Saturday night, June 30 will, no doubt, find me trying to finish reading the last of those three books so I can blog about the six books I read in June.

I’m a book-a-holic in need of an intervention.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time. I’ve done some thinking about my novel, The Spanish Coin (working title), but I haven’t actually added to the word count lately.

I think I need to spend more time writing and less time reading!

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it!

Janet

13 thoughts on “Reading is not a contest!

  1. Considering how you must fight to stay awake to read, I am in awe at how many books you do read. I enjoy your book reviews. I can tell if I would enjoy a particular book by your descriptions of it. It only takes a couple of disappointing books before I have to take a break from reading, period. So, I appreciate your reviews.
    With your posts, I can find better books to read; so, I don’t end up with a book that I feel that I am wasting my time reading. Who has time to waste? LOL
    So thank you💕🌷
    Have a good week Janet 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, it’s the downside of blogging, that we end up forcing ourselves to read just to feed the beast. Whenever I run out of steam, I take a couple of weeks off from blogging – that’s usually enough time for my appetite for reading to return.

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  3. I hope you meant to be funny because I was laughing! We are alike in this way as well! Except as I’ve noted before I still punish myself to finish a book I’ve started. Your WTR list is crazy! I’m currently reading Marriage of Opposites. Don’t know how it got on my list (was it one of your recommendations, maybe?) but I’m rather enjoying it. I will watch for your insightful (if short) June reading list. Hugs!

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  4. Funny you should mention taking a couple of weeks off from blogging. I’ve been considering doing just that. I have to remind myself that no one made me start the blog. I’m the one who did that and I’m the one who decided to write about the books I read in the previous month. I enjoy blogging, but I do need to lighten up on myself about the number of books I’m reading. Thanks for your comment and suggestion from your experience.

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  5. Alison, I’m glad you saw the humor in my blog post. Yes, I was poking fun at myself because I have inflicted this crazy reading thing on myself. My WTR list is definitely crazy! I need to purge about 500 books from the list. No, make that 550. It’s nuts. I got myself into this mess by not reading fiction as a young adult. I didn’t really get into fiction until about 18 years ago. I’ve been playing catch-up ever since, and it’s obviously not working. I’m tempted to ditch the whole list. I’m trying to finish reading Flat Broke with Two Goats this week, but why? I hung in there for five chapters, but I don’t really care what’s in chapter six. Executive decision made: stop with five chapters. Who knows? Maybe this is the new me! Thank you for your comments! Oh – no, I didn’t recommend Marriage of Opposites. It’s not even on my WTR list. Should it be? No — don’t even go there!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Katrina. It humbles me to know that you and others choose a book to read based on my reaction to it. I hope I won’t mislead anyone. Like you said, who has time to waste on a book that’s just not holding his or her interest? There might be another sleep study in my future. The first appointment for a sleep consultation I could get with my neurologist of choice is in August, so for the time being I’ll just keep doing the best I can — and reading when I can. Thank you for your encouraging comments. I hope you have a good week, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this post. Phillip Roth said that reading will go out of fashion because it takes two or three weeks to read a book-much too long– and the impulse to do all the other things there are to do would make reading impossible. I do feel you;re a bit obsessive about reading–not many people have such strong feelings about their books to read list.,I order so many books I can’t remember what I ordered, and when they come I think, “What is this?” or “Why the hell did I want this book?” Best wishes. Sometimes I read them, sometimes not.

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  8. I always appreciate your comments, David. I hope Phillip Roth is proven wrong! Time will tell. I know some people who don’t read books at all and others who read ever spare moment. I’m making some progress. Last night I culled 22 books off my WTR List. It felt good! One step at a time.

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  9. Hello Janet. I remember reading the results of a research study of reading habits of Americans that found that the majority of college graduates never read another book after graduating. Also, I’m thinking about the “heaviness” you find in twentieth century Russian prose. I read “literary” things, and am interested less in plot and characterization but in style, technique, and craft, and so can find no better reading than 20th century Russian Isaac Babel. An unusual life too, He was executed by the Russian Secret Police under Stalin.

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  10. Hello, David. I’m more of a historical fiction/thriller/suspense reader, but at your mention of Isaac Babel I have requested “The Complete Works of Isaac Babel” from the library. I look forward to reading it… or parts of it. I’m not likely to hang in there for all 1,072 pages. Thank you for the recommendation.

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  11. I especially like Babel’s autobiographical stories of his youth in Odessa. You sure are a woman of quick action, aren’t you?

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