Am I Reading Just To Be Reading?
The art of Intentional Reading
You might think from my subtitle that I am about to impart some fabulous wisdom on the art of Intentional reading; the prospect of which has you sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to be let in on the secret. Instead, I am about to lament on just how much reading I’ve done in the last 3 years that I really didn’t enjoy, and why that is.
To preface that, I’ve always been an avid reader. As a child I spent many a day with a book in my face, as the world around me carried on. That is, once the reading bug bit me. But, as a very young child I struggled with reading, which almost made me dislike picking up a book at all. And I’d like to say that there was some Ah-Ha moment or a fabulous teacher that helped me and that the moment/teacher changed my mind and my life. But the reality is that I don’t recall anything of the sort. I just know that in my tweens the reading bug bit, along with my love of writing. I hypothesize that this is how I dealt with and escaped my less than ideal childhood, and I’m 87.5% sure that is the case, but really who knows.
Anyway… this passion for literature has carried through into my adulthood. I realized just before the pandemic hit that I had been fairly lax on the amount of books I was reading over the previous 5 years or so. I mean, I had a lot of life changes going on during that time, and reading really wasn’t on my list of priorities. I had moved to a new country, gotten married, had some health scares, etc… It was a busy time. But, I found myself missing the peace & joy that comes from getting stuck into a good book. So, I made myself a challenge to read a certain number of books in 2020. I honestly can’t remember the exact amount, but I am thinking I said something like 20 books in 2020. That sounds just about cheesy enough for Instagram. And yeah, I crushed that goal by reading 44 books that year.
The next year I said I wanted to read 24 books, two a month, in 2021. And again I crushed that goal by reading 30 books. And all the while, I’m picking up cheap books on Amazon Kindle, and many of those buys were simply because they were cheap. Because let’s face it, reading that many books a year, at full retail value, will drain the budget quick. If a book was $2.99 or less, and not a cheesy romance or sci-fi/fantasy novel, I bought it! And if they were on my specific wish list for $5 or less, I picked those up too. This type of buying is bound to uncover some gems as well as some lumps of coal. And it certainly did!
So yeah, this year I think I said (to myself, of course) that I’d like to read 2 books a month again. And as of today’s date (April 28th) I’ve finished 21 books already! And I’d feel accomplished if I could honestly say they were all books I’ve enjoyed, but alas, they are not. I wouldn’t say a majority have been bad, but maybe 30%. And of the ones that are actually good books, I’m still having a tough time reading, because I’m feeling burned out. And I think I’m feeling burned out because of the amount of books being read, combined with the good to bad ratio. It isn’t ideal.
And to get to the point… I find myself asking what I’m getting out of all this reading. Am I just reading to be reading? To meet a goal I’ve set? If so, how is that beneficial to me? Am I gaining any knowledge from these books? Am I getting any entertainment value from them? Or, are they like social media, and just a time drain? A way to kill those moments of inactivity that people no longer know how to deal with?
This moment of reflection has left me wanting to be more intentional about the books that I read. Less worried about meeting a goal and more concerned with the benefits of each book. That being said, I have about 25 more books lined up in my Kindle Library, and I’m pretty sure about half of them are going to make me want to never read again. But I’m also pretty sure I will read them, because I’ve already paid for them. The practical side of me can’t fathom not reading a book I’ve paid for. Gah!
Yep, that’s the dilemma.
That and also, all this reading, plus being on a computer to edit photos & write daily, as well as daily for work, and my eyes are starting to show signs of strain. Ok, maybe they were showing signs a few years ago, and I have reading glasses that I don’t always use, so now they are full on striking. I’m talking squinting, holding things out at arms length one minute, and getting close the next. They can’t decide if the are nearsighted or farsighted. Add to that the fact that they have been severely dry for the last 6 years or so (I’m talking eye drops several times a day still don’t do the trick), and I’m thinking I need to reign it all in and give them a break.
So, for the sake of my sanity and eye health, I think it is now necessary for me to get more intentional with my reading. #QualityOverQuantity
How much do you read? Let’s talk about it in the comments below! Until next time, be loving, be kind, and be better!
My reading has been more intentional but it takes a while to finish a book. Been reading authors that I should have read in school many years ago. Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Kerouac, Chekhov, Falkner. Have you heard of Hoopla? It is an online library. If you have a library card from a physical library you can borrow a book for 21 days. So if you don't like a book or don't want to finish it there is no loss.
I look at it like our photography. When we started we were taking pictures of everything and learning technique’s and developing our sense of style. We weren’t really shooting for intent. Now I think we’ve gone beyond that and I think your reading now has purpose. Reading with intent is a great way to really hone in on what you want from it.