This week I put together a bar graph showing the number of books I have read during “My Reading Life” from 2014 to my current number for 2020. One conclusion was clear: my reading count has gone down over the years. Why is that? I certainly haven’t run out of books to read as my TBR is never-ending. But even I know I haven’t been as ambitious this year with my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge. In past years, I had it up to 40 books (seemingly reachable after 2014) but this year I completely cut it in half to 20. I think I did this in part because I knew it was attainable and it seemed appropriate for 2020 (little did I know…). In this post, I also reflect on habits that I can work on in order to find time to read amidst the chaos of life and university.
Recently, I read a peer review of my blog, written by Genevieve at Let’s Talk What I Watch, where she mentions that as a child she loved to read but as a university student with a ton of academic readings she does not get to as much anymore. As an English student, this is something I can relate to as I often have other books to read for class. In a way, these are helpful to my overall Goodreads challenge count, but they also take away from what I actually want to read. I also tend to like only reading one book at a time and give it my attention rather than reading multiple books and oftentimes not finishing all of them. To balance both, I find the best thing to do is just to stay caught up on the assigned chapters or sections of the one for school and continue the book I want to read on the side during any downtime. (Even though this sometimes does result in me procrastireading).
When I think back to 2014 (my highest read at 38) I was just starting high school and I remember a classmate remarking to me that I had a new book at my desk every week. I was reading the Heroes of Olympus series and had just read The Mortal Instruments series (both with 5+ books) so no doubt these helped add to my count. I think this was right before my family got a Netflix account so maybe that also had something to do with it… Overall in grade 8, I didn’t have a very heavy workload, and I hadn’t found my friend group yet so I filled my free time with reading. Flash forward to today, I often feel as if there are “too many books to read, too little time.”
Still, I’ve found that when I want to read a book really bad (like a new release) I can. This is usually because I will take the book wherever I go and read in any free time I get. This could be on the bus, after finishing an exam, on my lunch break, or waiting for an appointment. Books are the perfect thing to fill these moments because even if you only have 10 or 15 minutes, you can get a few pages read. Even now that I am not going out as much, I can still find these moments by taking short breaks throughout the day. I’ve found that when I don’t have a book with me, I go on my phone. Maybe I reply to a message or two – but otherwise it is usually aimlessly scrolling. (Having an e-book on your phone is also convenient for these situations! I recommend the library app – Libby) Limiting my screen time is something I want to try and do now especially with a complete online semester but so far it’s been a challenge. (Thanks TikTok) Instead of always going on my phone, I would like to turn it off earlier so I can spend more time reading before bed or have a laid-back morning with a book and breakfast. Despite having a busy schedule, these small pauses are so important and can be a great time to get lost in a book even if it is just for a moment.
As I plan to include more book reviews on this blog, I am going to have to follow my own tips as so far this semester all I’ve finished are 3 required books. Even if it isn’t reading multiple books a month I’ve found these tips still help me to read something. In grade 12, my English teacher made us do a log for reading 10 pages a day and though I often didn’t stick to it, this kind of goal and consistency could be helpful to some people. Still, knowing myself, I am definitely a mood reader and as reading is something I enjoy, I definitely don’t want to force myself to do it. Sometimes I’m just in a slump or would rather do something else like read a fanfic (hey it’s still reading!) or binge-watch a show. Book challenges are also supposed to be fun and allow you to reflect on what you read for years to come!
I think whether it’s reading a book or watching a show, what’s important is to have something you can enjoy as an escape from day to day craziness, without feeling guilty.
*all photos are my own*