As I was formatting my list of resolutions for 2019, I had one thing that I was hesitant to put down: read more books. Ridiculous, right? I mean, I have an actual BOOK BLOG, which I post on (more or less) once a week. I hardly need to read more. But, on reflection, I think I do, and that I’ve been in a bit of a slump for longer than I care to admit.
The Dreaded Reading Slump; Or, Reading Resolutions for 2019
It’s been on my mind fairly frequently of late that I’m in a reading slump. Maybe not by anyone else’s definition of a slump, but by mine. The pattern the past few months, despite having ample time to read, is that I’ll read 2-3 books in 2 weeks, and then not touch a book for a month or two. I’ll churn out reviews for those books that I do read (most of them, at least), and then leave the newest YA that I got languishing on my bedside table until the library gets mad at me or I tidy up and put it back on the shelf. I used to pride myself on having read the vast majority of the books on my shelf, now I have a shelf dedicated to my TBRs.
There are a few reasons I can think of for this. Maybe I’m following the pattern I’ve set for myself over the last few years of intense schoolwork–read fun things while I can, rather than on a day-to-day basis–despite no longer being in school. The majority of those books on my TBR shelf are sequels–maybe because I feel like I have to acquaint myself with earlier books to truly dive into the later books. So many of the books I was looking forward to this year were sequels, but there definitely came a time when I couldn’t handle reading the third or seventh book in a series I used to like, and sometimes it felt like it was hard to find new books that weren’t part of a series. Or maybe I’m just following trends of late, and buying books because I know the authors or because I read good things on social media, and not because the synopsis has truly piqued my interest. Or I’ve been spending too much time in other genres besides YA (romance novels got me through my thesis). Maybe I’ve gotten into the habit of scrolling through my phone before bed, instead of actually reading. Or…who knows. There are a half a hundred reasons that I can think of why I haven’t been reading, but it really hardly matters.
And, dear readers, there’s also the tendency to beat oneself up about this. Especially because I have you guys, and I’m so connected to the bookish world, it’s easy to think that I’m failing because I haven’t finished the Throne of Glass series, or managed to get a hold of the latest big read. And, as these things do, this just contributes more anxiety and less desire to read, because of the pressure I’m putting on myself to do so.
But, in stating my resolution to read more books, I’m also giving myself permission to be kind to myself about it. I’m not going to punish myself for not reading, or not reading YA. I’m not going to force myself to read sequels if I don’t feel prepared, I’m not going to tell myself that I really should read that one book that all of the other bloggers were raving about. I’m not even going to say that I should read new books, and I’m going to give myself permission to reread that book that I love if I feel like reading it. I’m going to dismantle my TBR shelf and put all of those sequels with their siblings, where their judgment is more diffused and I don’t have to look at them and feel all guilty. I’m also giving myself permission to branch out of my reading comfort zone if I want to, especially in the direction of authors of color and other own-voices reads.
I’m compiling a list of new, exciting books that get my heart going pitter-patter for the new year. I’m DYING to get my hands on a copy of the Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (and I’ve already made plans to see Rosh on her tour). I have notes about preordering King of Scars from Leigh Bardugo and On the Come Up from Angie Thomas, both related to older books but not part of a series. I’m also looking forward to V.E. Schwab’s re-release of one of her early novels, the Near Witch. I’m even going to branch out of my usual favorite-author list, with the new epic fantasy, Priory of the Orange Tree, from Samantha Shannon, that I’m already making plans to read.
It’s hard to avoid sequels, but that’s not to say I’m excited about some–Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance is definitely going to have a place on my bookshelf, as is the Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton. I’ll almost certainly buy more, but I’m going to give myself permission to only read them when I feel up to it (maybe when I do a series reread?).
But I also think there are some other changes I can make, not just to the things I’m reading, but how I’m reading them. I rarely bring a book with me anymore–whyever did I give *that* up? (Because I wasn’t reading them and they were dead weight in my bag, that’s why…but still!). I can change my before-bed activity from Twitter to reading actual books, which is probably going to have a number of benefits. And again, changing the books around so I feel less guilt about my TBR shelf is probably also good.
So yes, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more books. And, in addition to that, to make reading a fun, stress-relieving activity again for me. I want to remember why I loved books so much I started a blog about it, and I want to keep up making sure I’m delivering absolute quality content to you.