When Reading is a Chore

I love to read. It’s one of my favorite activities.

I especially love curling up to read with the boys. It’s always fun to snuggle with the Bear and read his favorite picture books (unless he chooses a Thomas book. I’m OVER Thomas the Tank Engine).

It’s particularly fun to read with the Bug, though, because we’re reading chapter books together. We’ve read a good number, including all of the Chronicles of Narnia, some Dick King-Smith (Babe, anyone? I LOVE that book!) and a few Roald Dahl books.

It’s such a pleasure to read with him and discover stories together, or see him enjoy the books that I loved as a child.

But sometimes, reading is a chore.

With some books, I find myself doing anything EXCEPT picking them up and reading them. This invariably means that it takes me forever to get through these books.

Usually, it’s a sure-fire sign that I am not enjoying a read. And yet, I often struggle to put aside something that I have started.

Reading Guilt

I’m not sure why I have this idea that I have to finish the books I begin. It’s not like I’m reading them for a book group, a class, or for any kind of deadline.

Often, I can feel bad if I’m not enjoying a book that someone has recommended. This is especially true if it’s a recommendation from someone I particularly love or respect.

I need to remind myself that the way I feel about their recommendations does not reflect on how I feel about the person!

Also, if I’ve paid money for a book, I tell myself I really should read it. It’s a waste of money if I don’t, right?

(This is why I’m so glad we have access to such wonderful libraries…)

What Puts Me Off

It can be for any number of reasons.

If a book is boring, then I feel far less guilt about dropping it.

The worst is when I can objectively acknowledge that a book is good, but something is keeping me from thoroughly enjoying it.

It’s usually because I don’t like the protagonist or a main character. I can’t get behind their choices, or they’re just awful people.

Sometimes, it’s the author him or herself (if I’m honest, more often a him). Do you ever feel like, even when reading a work of fiction, you’re actually reading something autobiographical? This happens to me quite often, but I don’t generally mind it.

When it does bother me, is when I can tell that the author is a real jerk. This happened when I read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.

I know, I know! It’s a classic! A masterpiece! It’s supposed to be sublime literature! But GOOD GRIEF WHAT A CHAUVINISTIC JERK!

It took me waaaaay too long to finish that book because I cringed almost every time I picked it up.

Call me a Philistine if you will, but when reading Hemingway, I found there was simply too much of… Well, Hemingway, in his writing.

All That To Say…

I’m reading a piece of non-fiction right now, and though I wouldn’t say the author is a jerk like Hemingway, he (and the people he’s surrounded by in his story) are insufferable snobs.

He’s got a great story to tell (I think, I haven’t gotten all that far), but man, I would NOT invite him to a dinner party. I swear, he’d spend the evening lecturing us about the superiority of other cultures and would make literary and historical references, and then scorn us for not recognizing them.

No, thank you.

But I guess I’ll try and finish his book. As long as I don’t have to meet him.

The Joy of Reading

It feels so decadent.

It almost feels sinful…

To sit down and pick up a book…

…In the middle of the day!

Early Pleasure

I’ve always been a reader. I don’t even remember learning to read. As far as I can remember, I’ve always been able to.

My happiest memories of childhood are of our family reading together.

We read about NIMH, Narnia, Middle Earth, the cupboard, the high seas, deep space, jungles… More places than I can remember.

When we outgrew family reading time, I started reading on my own. I was never as voracious a reader as my brothers, but I was always reading something.

Forgotten Pleasure

When I was studying I found it hard to read for pleasure, as I am a slow reader and spent so much time reading school materials.

But upon graduating from college, I moved back home and started working a job that had a 30 minute commute by public transport. Perfect. My love was rekindled.

After having children, though, my reading slowed way down.

And then, after my mother died, I nearly stopped reading altogether.

Shared Pleasure

Reading was something I shared with my mother. It was something we did together. Almost everything I read was a recommendation from her.

She had majored in English and was always a deep and thoughtful reader. By reading the same books, we could talk about them together, too. Long after I’d stopped writing papers for English class, I’d still be discussing and arguing them with my mother.

When she died, that font dried up. There was no one else I could really talk about books with.

Many of my friends and family read constantly. But either they restrict their discussion of books to their book groups, or their tastes and interests are very different from mine.

And sadly, many friends, like me, have drifted away from reading because they feel they don’t have time. Whether it’s because of kids or work.

Necessary Pleasure

Since moving back to the States where I have access to a wonderful public library system, my love of reading has rekindled.

Access to English-language books is helpful.

Developing the courage to make my own reading choices and branch out into the unknown is also helpful.

Suddenly, despite not having my reading guru–my literary guide–anymore, I have fallen in love with reading all over again.

Now, with the pandemic, struggles with mental health, small children at home, isolation and boredom pressing in–Now, more than ever, reading is a necessary pleasure.

The newspaper. Magazines. Children’s books. Nonfiction, history, social sciences… And yes, the novels I have always loved.

Reading Is Keeping Me Sane.

I’m currently reading Kate Atkinson’s latest in her Jackson Brodie series, Big Sky.

In between novels, I’m reading chapters of El infinito en un junco by Irene Vallejo. It’s a sweeping history of books themselves, the earliest written word and the first libraries.

What are you reading?

Find me on Goodreads!

An Uptick in Readership

I got an email from Google Analytics the other day. It told me that suddenly I’d had quite an uptick in readership of my blog. Hooray!

Progress?

This was exciting news!

Don’t get me wrong, my numbers are DISMAL. Absolutely abysmal. It could be because I’ve shamefully neglected this blog over the years. It could also be that I’ve never really written this blog with a mind to SEO or driving clicks.

But suddenly in February my numbers weren’t quite so dismal. (They were still bad, but not rock bottom bad, you know?)

What had happened??

I assumed that this was because I had returned to writing on a fairly regular basis.

I write an article and then automatically publish it to a number of social media platforms, including the (rather neglected) Facebook page I have for this blog.

But as anyone who works in the blogosphere knows, the more you write, the more people read.

So, hooray!

But that’s not all…

Granted, writing more frequently and publishing more on the blog is bound to attract a few more readers. However, what seems to be the catalyst in my readership increase is…

Drumroll please…

RAVELRY!!

Yup! That wonderful website, that glorious database of all things yarn is the reason for my (slight) increase in traffic on my blog.

Let me explain.

I checked out a local Stitch n’ Bitch group back in the fall, and as they haven’t kicked me out (and even seem glad to see me!), I’ve started to attend regularly.

The lovely ladies of this group have generously added me to their Facebook page, and also to their list of Ravelry friends. And since I have links to my blog sprinkled around my Facebook page and my Ravelry profile, BAM! Some of these curious souls clicked! And voilà!

I would never have known the reason for my blog’s sudden surge (HA!) in popularity (GUFFAW!) had one of my fellow stitchers (n’ bitchers) not mentioned to me last night that she had been reading my blog.

So to all you wonderful ladies of the Stitch n’ Bitch…

THANK YOU FOR READING!

It really does mean a lot to me.

And here’s where you can find my Facebook page, and my Ravelry profile.