I’ll admit, most of my personality quirks and character flaws don’t bother me, but this one does. I read a decent amount for the average person, but not for a writer who has a blog based largely on fantasy literature. On a good year, I might read about 20 books, about half of which are fiction and about half of which are re-reads. On a more stressful year, I might read 8 or so books. This means that in any given year, I read maybe 3-7 fiction books that I haven’t read before. That’s not a lot for someone who largely blogs about the impact of fantasy fiction.
In fairness, I used to be a much more avid reader than I am now. Growing up, I didn’t have cable TV or video games or many electronics period, so I read. I was one of those kids that read 30+ books in a summer. I’d read a few books in a week’s time. My bedside table had a stack of 12 or so that I was reading simultaneously. (Some people find that confusing? It has never bothered me.) Around the time my mother passed away in high school, though, I started having trouble concentrating. I watched TV more because it was easier. I wrote more too, I guess, because I had a lot to process.
In college of course, I had a heavy reading load as an English major. I could do it, but I’ll admit there was a fair amount of skimming involved. Even today, I find myself getting side-tracked easily or I get caught up in the ideas behind what I have read instead of actually reading the book. Reading a lot of blog posts, newspaper articles, and watching a lot of documentaries also eats into my current reading time. Oh, and don’t get me started on Netflix.
On the one hand, I feel like a bit of an impostor. There are a lot of very popular books that I just haven’t gotten around to reading yet, though they are on my list. Sherlock Holmes. Moby Dick. Anna Karenina. One thing I have realized, though, is that I get more out of my reading experience now than as a child. I take time to pause and contemplate what I’ve read. I make connections between what I am reading now and other elements of my life. I let myself get lost in the thoughts that the book provides me. So, while I would absolutely love to tear through a page-turner in one weekend like I did when I was little, I have come to appreciate the experience of what I call slow reading, really savoring the words on the page and letting them impact my life in a meaningful way. I will also re-read books and pick up different nuances. So, I think -or maybe I hope- that my reading has just grown deeper, rather than being more prolific.
Do you have anything in your life that you feel you should be good at but aren’t? How did you overcome that insecurity?