Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 191 of 365: Why I Can't Read Books

It has been impossible for me to pleasure read as of late. I've enjoyed a few comic/picture books from my favorite blog people (if you're unfamiliar with the Oatmeal or Hyperbole and a Half, I suggest getting yourself acquainted), but that's really about it.

I first blamed it on a shitty string of books. It took me a month to get through Caprice Crane's A Family Affair (which broke my heart, because she is such a funny writer otherwise, but this book read like a creative writing major's first draft). I picked up the sequel to Shanghai Girls (Dreams of Joy) and, again, found myself muddling through. The book wasn't as bad as A Family Affair, but I couldn't read more than ten pages at a time, and I couldn't get myself to read on most days.

I worried that this was the beginning of the end. This is the point where adults talk about how they used to read so avidly, but "something happened" and they just stopped. I wondered if my constant writing/editing was forcing me to read these books in a more critical light, seeing what they could've changed instead of enjoying the story for exactly what it was.

And that's when it hit me: I haven't been reading other people's books because I have been too busy reading my own. I devote roughly 3 to 4 hours a day purely on editing right now -- and some days that number can double. Editing my first manuscript, editing my model essays, editing the blurbs that I write in here so that it can be somewhat presentable for an actual publication. I'm reading 100 or so pages a day, which I usually only hit if I'm really into whatever book I'm reading.

And when I'm not doing that, I've got my nose in a textbook. Anatomy, philosophy, spirituality... it's incredibly common to get an email from my instructor that basically says, "And for our next class, I want you to read this entire book." Which is not exactly unheard of, especially as someone who got her degree in English. I ping-pong from my laptop to my couch, going from reading for editing purposes to reading for educational purposes, all day long.

I forget that, in college, I almost never pleasure read. There was just no time. The only thing I could do was enjoy the books I was assigned to read and treat them like some version of pleasure reading.

Which is what I'm doing now. I am proud of the fact that I'm entertained still by my first manuscript. I enjoy whatever pieces of philosophy and spirituality that I absorb from the textbooks. Granted, the anatomy stuff makes me realize how poor of a nurse I would've been, but it's still so cool to learn about the parts of the spine, the different movement planes, inward and outward rotations, flexion and inflexion, etc, etc.

So maybe I'm only 50 pages into Dreams of Joy with absolutely no idea on when I'll finish it. But I am 300+ pages into Chick Lit (And Other Formulas for Life), I am reading I'm Just Here for the Free Scrutiny cover to cover at least once a week, and I'm devouring enough philosophy books to make any self-help author blush.

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