For the past 3 months now, I have been suffering from reader’s block. Books were my safe haven after the lockdown. I found reading the best way to cope with my anxiety, and 2020 became the year I read the greatest number of books in my whole life.
Let me tell you why I read. I read to combat boredom, to fantasize about characters and places, to go away to different worlds and shut the chaos and toxicity around me; basically, books are my BFFs. I am antisocial and over time I’ve learned to make friends with books-- my longest friendship has been with Nancy Drew and Meg Cabot.
“When you make loving others the story of your life, there’s never a final chapter, because the legacy continues. You lend your light to one person, and he or she shines it on another and another and another. And I know for sure that in the final analysis of our lives - when the to-do lists are no more, when the frenzy is finished, when our e-mail boxes - the only thing that will have any lasting value is whether we’ve loved others and whether they’ve loved us.”
-What I Know For Sure, Oprah Winfrey
Now that the world has started picking up its pace again and our fears have slightly toned down after the launch of the vaccine, I have found it hard to pick up a book and go back to my reading routine. For me, being a reader accounts for a major chunk of my self esteem. My identity as a reader is what I’m most proud of and not being able to pick up a book has been really hard to deal with. I have time, I want to read, I know what to read, and I already have a pile of books to read, but I cannot sit still to read or even open a book.
In this informational age, reading has become competitive. There are apps out there to teach you how to read quickly, to read more than 100 books a year, or read a book that would otherwise take three hours to finish in 15 minutes. Yet I am constantly wondering, why can we no longer read for pleasure? Why do we feel embarrassed by the fact that it takes us a long time to read? Why can’t we take our time with stories and characters or ideas and concepts, dwell in our ‘book hangovers' and take time in-between reading books, to process them? Why can’t we champion slow and intentional reading?
To read without reflecting, is like eating without digesting.
Reading should be a slow process. When we immerse ourselves in reading, our mind and body should relax. Our blood pressure should normalise and it should have the same effect as someone telling us to take a minute to just breathe. So in 2021, my motto is to read slowly. Slow down and appreciate the book.