Have you ever anticipated reading a book, built up the potential experience in your mind to unsurpassable heights, so that the only remaining destination is the pit of depthless disappointment?
I love reading, I do. But I am also a classic overthinker. This is how my reading process goes:
“I can’t wait to read this book! This book is going to be different. This book is going to make me feel something entirely new. I will come away with feelings that I’ve never dreamt of having or knowing. I will take away knowledge that will make me wiser. I will come away with a treasure of bottomless joy. I will…”
“Oh my God, the long-awaited adventure has finally come! Ah, would you look at those first few pages?! I’m in a new world with new possibilities! This is so exciting, this is so refreshing…
And this is not what I came for.
I’m bored now.
Hey, Soph, have you thought of these other books?”
This cycle is so recycled, my soul may now just be the world’s most green-friendly system it has ever witnessed.
Why does this happen? Why do I have an existential crisis every time I read? Why am I so bogged down by what reading truly means?
It is only this past year that I’ve developed an overwhelming need to overanalyse what should be a leisure pleasure. Because this is what reading is supposed to be like, isn’t it? Reading is supposed to bring enjoyment, it’s supposed to allow you to immerse yourself in a different world, inhabit another’s skin, live and breathe something entirely new or something or someone so familiar that reminds you that you’re not alone.
I have been thinking and thinking and thinking this over. I’ve over-thunk this to exhaustion and so much so that I feel it in my tired joints as it opens another new book, as my eyes gloss over words that it barely registers, as my mind drifts to unrelated thoughts. God, I’m tired.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed some of the books that I’ve read this year. I’ve loved Oh, The Places You’ll Go, The Diary of a Young Girl, Emma, The Hate U Give and the Wimpy Kid series. In fact, reading Anne Frank’s diary was a revelation to me. I never realised that I could relate to a non-fictional person so much, that someone like me has actually existed, that I’m not as alien as I thought I was. I suffer from Anne Frank syndrome: happy on the outside, sad on the inside. Sure, not a lot happens in the book, but if like me you relate to Anne, then you will understand the joy that I felt as Anne wrote out my thoughts and feelings. And Oh, The Places You’ll Go? That book is my happy place. It’s my go-to pick-me-up and yet, I don’t own a copy. *Makes a mental note to request book for my birthday.*
But some of the others have been underwhelming. If you remember, I made a list of books that I want to read this year a few months back. I planned the crap out of it. I even planned the next reading adventure after I finished that. And now I realise that it has been a major detriment to my enjoyment of reading. I’ve created a routine and a reading schedule, and I feel so confined. I feel so limited.
I am a free-spirit. And yet I’ve trapped myself in a routine that is stifling me. The first thing I ever knew about life was that routine makes me see things in sepia tone, of a world that is no longer alive and pulsing, of day’s gone by that bring a noxious nostalgia of monotony and anything devoid of variety, vibrance and colour.
Variety and authenticity… my defining traits. I want to read according to my mood. I don’t want to create a schedule and tell myself: “This is what you planned, now get on to it! And don’t forget to take notes for your book review!” Reading isn’t work, it shouldn’t be. Reading should be fun. And this is me working and writing out my feelings and desires. I am setting myself free from routine and diving into a sea of endless whims.
This past year, I’ve forced myself to finish books that I don’t really want to read hoping and deluding myself into believing that it will get better. Now I’m going to give you a 50-100 pages chance before it’s time to kick you out of my life and into someone else’s who will enjoy you better.
Heck, I’ve been telling myself that perhaps I need to read a self-help/religious book next, or maybe some poetry in an effort to put some heart back into my heart. But no. I will not. I will pick up whatever book strikes my fancy, in the moment, and promptly throw it away when I no longer find it interesting (ethically, of course; I’m looking at you my local library and charity shop).
Speaking of which, I’ve loved writing poetry more these days, just sitting down and pouring my voice into verses. In the grip of a fever a month ago, I cried so much I purged out all the repressed feelings I had been harbouring, everything I had let fester and, somehow, I managed to compose a blur of poetry. But I felt so alive, I felt what I’ve dreamt of feeling for a long, long time: passion, excitement and fulfilment.
In the midst of reading, I’ve forgotten a far greater pleasure: writing. Because my voice is my voice, purely my own. No other voice will be quite my own. Almost all of them will never make it to my blog, they are for my eyes only. I do it for me and nobody else.
So, I say goodbye to routine and schedules, you’ve trapped me long enough, but I’ve crawled out of the sewer now and I emerge free, victorious and with no idea what’s going to happen next.
Have you ever experienced these thoughts when reading? What tips do you have for overthinking readers? Let me know in the comments!
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