The past few years, while living up north, I made it a habit to read a lot. I was a voracious reader growing up, but, like most adults transitioning into working life, the habit fell by the wayside.
The north was a perfect place for reading. Lots of time, lots of silence, lots of solitude. And with my full time job as a high school teacher, it was helpful to have enough disposable income to afford an Audible.com membership. I found a lot of new books through this company and got into books by comedians (i.e. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jim Gaffigan, Mindy Kaling). I consistently surpassed my goal of 15 books a year, and marked it on GoodReads.com:
And then 2017 rolled around.
I struggled with reading. I couldn’t sit and get through a single book within 2 weeks. I kept seeing more books and would start them without finishing the others. Soon I had a giant stack of half-finished books and a wave of anxiety that there was no time to read them all. Needless to say, I felt frustrated.
I attributed it to bad habits. I had trouble focusing. Well, it’s probably because I’ve got so much going on this year – new job, moving out of the north, moving to Waterloo, adjusting to a new city, etc. etc. The excuses went on and on.
Deep down, I knew I had time. I always had time for a book because they so beautifully fill in the cracks to our days, but I blamed my lack of focus and left it at that.
And then I read this page out of Manoush Zamorodi’s Bored and Brilliant* and it – figuratively speaking – scared the poop out of me:
So it wasn’t just me.
Even famous journalists, writers, literary artists, scientists, politicians and neuroscientists were suffering the same fate. I wasn’t the only one who was having issues with deep reading. I was not alone in this.
And a couple of weeks ago I vowed to dive back into reading.
Deep reading. Everywhere reading. Reading on a daily basis. Reading for short bursts. Carrying my books to read when I was waiting in a line. Reading when I was waiting to be addressed at a service desk. Reading during a meal. Reading in the morning. Reading before bed.
And magically, I felt my focus come back.
It was alarmingly fast and yet noticeable. It was shocking the difference I felt. Not only that, but the wave of anxiety was not replaced by a wave of great relief. Relief that that part of me didn’t die or disappear altogether. Relief that I still love reading. Relief that I learn so much from these books and that I get joy from it.
Well, I better damn well get my act together if I am going to get through Lena Dunham’s Not That Kinda Girl, Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers before the end of November.
Gotta run, I have a book to read.
*The book is based off of a series of interviews from the WNYC podcast, Note to Self