Discussion

Change in Reading Habits

Hello, lovelies!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. As the election continues to loom closer, I find my mental health continuing to drop and my motivation to do anything has lessened (not to mention my day job is kicking my ass). I fear this is something that’s going to continue until we find out what’s going to happen next and then…well, I guess we’ll see.

BUT, that’s not what I wanted to focus on. Instead, I wanted to write a quick post (potentially, we’ll see how long it gets) to discuss a change in my reading habits that I realized recently, which I’m hoping will help me be a little more forgiving that I’m not reading nearly as much as I used to.

You see, I’ve been a reader since…forever, really. Some of my earliest school memories is centered around reading books. I would always read after I finished assignments in class (and got made fun of it), constantly have the max number of books I was allowed to checked out at the library, participated in things like Novel Navigators and Advanced Readers club with my school. In the evenings, I’d go to bed and read every night, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to do that on the weekends for hours at a time, either.

I didn’t keep track back then, even in middle school or high school, but I read a lot of books. Easily over a 100 a year, I’d bet. It was pretty much my only hobby growing up, and, even though I read slightly less in high school, thanks to…well, it being high school, it was still what I was known for. It’s still what I did a lot of the time.

reading read GIF by Alexandra Dvornikova

Here’s the interesting thing: in recent years, but especially recently, I’ve been disappointed in myself for not reading “that much”. This year, I’ve started tracking better and it’s taking me, on average, two weeks to read a book. I’m reading 1-2 books a month. I’ve only read 26 books this year (let’s ignore the fact that my Goodreads goal is set at 150; HA). I keep feeling genuine guilt every time I think about it, because why aren’t I reading more? How can I be reading so “little”?

It finally dawned on me that my reading habits have changed, not to mention the fact that what is considered a little and a lot, reading-number-wise, is completely subjective.

Reading isn’t my only hobby, anymore. Video games have taken over as my main hobby and something I do every night after work and on the weekends, a lot of the time. I enjoy them and love that escape.

I am also working two jobs (freelance editing and my full-time day job as an academic advisor), plus I’m a blogger (who puts in easily 10+ hours a week into this blog–which didn’t exist until 2012) and a writer. I also started grad school this year, albeit part-time. I have a house to clean, cooking to do, and a partner and pets I want to hang out with. Social media didn’t exist until I was in middle school and I wasn’t allowed to get accounts until I was in late high school, and we all know that unfortunately takes up a lot of time.

In that context, should I really be surprised that my reading time has lessened dramatically and thus, I’m not going to read as many books as I did before?

doctor who sherlock GIF

*sighs in obvious*

So, that guilt? Completely unnecessary. I need to update my reading expectations to match my new reality: reading isn’t the only thing that takes up my time, now. And that’s okay. I’m not going to feel guilty for doing something I love, like video games, because that means I’m not going to be reading 10 books a month or whatever it is I used to read.

All that said, though, I do want to try and put two new “rules” back in place, because I could be–and WANT to be–reading more. It’s great for my mental health and, like I said above, that…isn’t so great, currently.

  1. Stop doomscrolling before bed
  2. Actually take a lunch break and read

I’ve gotten into the really bad habit of staying up too late playing video games and then complaining that I’m too tired to read, only to scroll for another hour. 🤦‍♀️ Likewise, because my day job is so busy and I’m working remotely, I find it easier to work over my lunch break and snack throughout the day, instead of actually taking a BREAK. Or, I’ll make lunch, but then I’ll clean or do something else around the house–which is nice, but I miss reading and recharging in the middle of my day, that way.

Dedicating that “hour” each day, between my lunch break and before bed, isn’t going to get me up to my old reading output. But, I don’t think that’s the goal; don’t think it should be. There are a ton of great books that I want to read and more continue to be published every day. I miss reading to escape, to enjoy it and to help my own mental health through that, instead of panicking about a reading challenge or a number. I’m hoping, by realizing that my life has changed and I’m actually not reading as much, that I can accept that 2-4 books a month might be my norm, now. And that’s okay (even if, just writing that sentence, makes me panic inwardly as a gut reflex, because how am I going to read all of the books I want to with so few read each year!?!).

What about you? Have your reading habits changed at all? Do you feel guilty when you’re not reading? How do you combat that? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers.

7 thoughts on “Change in Reading Habits”

  1. I feel this so hard, oh my gosh…I was the exact same growing up, but recently my reading habits have completely slacked. I’m blaming, well, everything this year, and also worsening mental health (and potentially undiagnosed ADHD???), so it’s a lot. BUT I feel the same, I want to read more because I know it helps my mental health and refills my creativity well. It’s an ongoing struggle….but hey if it makes you feel better, I read WAYYY less than you!! You’re doing amazing, be gentle with yourself ❤ ❤

    1. Gosh, how are we twins in everything!? ❤ Yeah, this year certainly isn't helping anything for sure, but it's also mindblowing how I KNOW it will help my mental health, and yet I KNOW doomscrolling doesn't, yet what wins out each evening? *sighs* I hope you are gentle with yourself, too. ❤ ❤

  2. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about this. Life gets in the way of reading. That’s natural. I could hardly get through 40 books a year before, but now that I’m retired, I see I may hit over 60 books this year. You do you, don’t feel guilty about how much or little you read.

  3. I wrestle with the same guilt! I read AT MOST six books a month, and it’s been less lately, in part due to my own shifting job situation. I have to remind myself that sometimes life has other plans and it’s okay. AND that it’s okay if video games are better for my brain right now – whatever gets me through my day/week/month. But yes, find that regular hour to carve out some time! You’d be amazed how much you get through if you just read for a half hour at lunch or a half hour before bed. Plus you can feel like you “accomplished” something (though that of course isn’t the goal).

  4. I can definitely relate to the change in reading habits and the guilt involved, and feeling like I’m not reading enough anymore. Life circumstances change though, and it can mean less time to read, so I totally agree that we need to not beat ourselves up about it. Great post!

  5. I relate to this so hard. I used to read a lot, but now I find it hard to do between school, work and writing my own books…I still love to read, and I still love stories, and sometimes I do feel a little guilty for not reading as much as I used to. However, I know that if I keep that little ember of a love for reading burning until school’s over, I’ll find the time to read again and the love can really re-ignite into a burning flame. Loved this post. ❤️

  6. NOTE: I made a long comment again. D: Sorry!

    I feel this so much. It’s something I’ve been thinking on recently. When I was a kid and a teenager, I read a book a day at least, and that is not an exaggeration. I finished my work in class as quickly as I could so I could read. I read lunch breaks. At times I read as I walked home, and relied on my sister to direct me across roads (she didn’t care for this, so it didn’t last long). Most of my spare time was reading — though I loved video games, I had to share with so many siblings that I didn’t get a lot of time for it. But nobody would stop me reading.

    Actually my parents once *grounded me from books*. That’s the situation. XD

    And I don’t read anything *like* that anymore. I read a couple books a month maybe — closer to a handful on especially good months. I have less access to books now (thanks, UK government, for defunding libraries) but that’s not all. Like you I just have more things to do, combined with some bad habits that aren’t optimising my time for happiness.

    But also like … when I was a kid reading was an escape. I wouldn’t have made it through my school years without books. I don’t need to escape to the same degree now so it even makes sense that I don’t read like I used to.

    Trying to make my peace with that. I do like your idea of making specific time for reading: maybe I should try that too.

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