Monday Musings | A Year Without Reading

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Whenever someone asks me what my favourite read of 2013 was, I get a little panicky inside. You see, 2013 was a big year for me: I finished my English Literature degree in April, and moved from Vancouver to Toronto in May. And from May to December I hardly read at all. So, when asked that particular question, I have no idea what to say.

I think I can probably count on one hand the books I read in that time period and the fact makes me so ashamed. But the truth of the matter is that I was simply burnt out on reading and because of my various reading deadlines in school, it started to feel more like a chore than something I did to relax and enjoy. It wasn’t until January 2014 that I truly started reading again. And you know what? I don’t regret my reading hiatus at all. *gasp*

I can’t say that I was 100% productive during my reading break – a lot of it was spent on the internet, playing Candy Crush, or beating Pokemon on a borrowed console. But I also discovered a love for yoga and felt a building confirmation that my dream is to work in publishing. I’m not sure the latter part would have been so clear if I hadn’t taken time to distance myself and remember what it was that lead me to choose my major in the first place. I love books and I love reading, simple as that.

So, while I do think my (almost) year without reading represents a lot of lost time in which I could have read dozens of books, I also appreciate the break that I gave myself. My hiatus served to remind me that reading doesn’t have to be a chore – it’s something that I’m passionate about and, to be honest, the only career choice that I can see. I am now fully back on the reading train and, man, have I read some great books this year. I can’t wait to see what the second half of this year of reading holds!

Have you ever taken a break from reading? Do you feel guilty about that time period at all?

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28 thoughts on “Monday Musings | A Year Without Reading

  1. Andi (@estellasrevenge) says:

    I took long breaks from reading the year I moved across the country and started teaching high school and again the year I had my son. This year I got married, and while I haven’t stopped reading, I have slowed down A LOT. I think it comes with the territory of big life changes and it can definitely be good for us!

  2. ReadingMaria says:

    I take long breaks during school//I’m an English major at York University. It’s not because I don’t want to read…I’m just too busy to read! After exams are over, I do take about a month with little to no reading, to sort of regroup and have some time to relax!

  3. Emily @ Books & Cleverness says:

    I’ve never really taken a long break from reading since I’ve started blogging, but I definitely have to read less during the school year. The only time I really have to read while school is in session is on the weekends, but I think it’s a must so I can focus on my schoolwork. Great discussion! 🙂

    • kmn04books says:

      It seems like taking breaks in between school is a pretty common thing! I think blogging has definitely made me read more, though I feel like that wouldn’t be possible if I were still in school. Thanks for adding to the discussion 🙂

  4. M @ Backlist Books says:

    Hmmm. This post REALLY hits home. I found it hard to read consistently throughout my college/uni years. I’d start reading a novel and then midterms or that big essay or finals would hit… and I’d completely abandon it. By the time I went back, I’d have forgotten the details and lost my momentum. Faced with either re-starting or giving up, I invariably chose the latter. My shelves are still scattered with partially-read books with sad little bookmarks stranded somewhere before the 100th page.
    I finally gave up and started reading books that could be sliced up into chunks – essays, short fiction, topical selections, anthologies. The only exception to this were the books I reviewed, which I approached much like homework. When I finally did get a chance to catch up on reading between semesters, I was exhausted. My brain craved the literary equivalent of cotton candy. I’d find myself reaching for the most ridiculously easy reading I could find. Books I didn’t even really like, much less want to admit to reading (it was during this period that I read all the Twilight books, most of the True Blood series and the Shopaholic books, for example).
    By the time I graduated, I was just done. I’d had so much course reading to do for so long that the very act of reading made me cringe. I spent the next two years mostly watching TV. I mean, I didn’t totally stop reading – I re-read the Harry Potter books, I read a few comedic memoirs and even started several more novels. I just didn’t read at the consistent 1-2 book rate I usually do now. And I kind of feel the same way – that I needed the break. Sure, part of me looks at the shelves of books I’ve polished off in the past year since I started REALLY reading again and thinks, “Man. I could have read SO MANY BOOKS while I was watching all those episodes of House.”
    But another part of me shrugs and goes, “So what? I’m reading now.” At the end of the day, reading has to be fun, or what’s the point? Forcing it doesn’t work, not if it’s to remain a wonderful escape. So I’ll take the reading burnouts and slumps as they come and just trust that one day I’ll pick up the right book and dive right back in. My TBR pile isn’t going anywhere.

  5. Milliebot says:

    The most I’ve gone is a few days without reading and even that’s tough. I don’t feel guilty, but I start to get bored…empty. It’s almost like I need books in my life.

  6. The Paperback Princess says:

    I think that this is a problem that a lot of people have. I’m just not sure that all those folks realize it like you did. When you’re in school like that, reading does start to feel like a chore, like something you have to get through, it’s stressful! For a lot of people that’s how they feel about reading forever more. I think taking a time out like you did was a great idea! An excellent way to reconnect with your love for it.

      • kmn04books says:

        I agree with the both of you! Reading definitely started feeling more like a chore than anything else. And I couldn’t seem to turn off my “English major brain” and just enjoy the literature! Of course, I still analyze texts and think about them critically, but now I’m more relaxed about it 🙂 I think blogging is great for keeping my reading up and my critical mind active!

  7. Leah says:

    I think our reading is always going to ebb and flow because of life events, and that’s totally fine! I took a month off of blogging right after I graduated from college two years ago, and it was so nice to relax. It allowed me to come back feeling fresh and enthusiastic again.

  8. Charleen says:

    I don’t feel guilty about my massive break from reading, I feel bitter. I was ALWAYS reading as a kid, but I didn’t read at all for pleasure through high school and a good chunk of college. Not that I would have had time for much of it, but because of high school English class, it just wasn’t even on my radar as an enjoyable pastime. I’m glad it didn’t permanently kill my love of reading, but the whole experience has really soured me on that part of the set school curriculum.

    • kmn04books says:

      I think that’s definitely something that should be talked about. I feel like sometimes we read such dense “literary” works in high school that it ends up scaring people off! The fact that the reading is mandatory definitely doesn’t help the reader feel engaged or excited a lot of the time either… it’s such a shame! I can’t think of any alternatives though. Independent study in English class?

      • Charleen says:

        Independent study would go a long way. So would choosing more accessible works to teach the concepts they use the classics for. Sure, teach some classics too… but mix it up, and encourage independent reading on the side… and understand that in order to add these things, they will have to take away from some of their current model. Don’t pile independent study requirements on top of everything else, or it will just make the problem worse.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I haven’t taken a break from reading, but I’m taking a break from reading fiction. I’ve read so many fiction books that I got tired of them, now I’m reading non-fiction and I love all of them, at the moment I have 3 on my bedside desk. But you are right, sometimes we need a break of things we can’t imagine it will be necessary.

    • kmn04books says:

      That’s a good idea if you don’t want to quit reading altogether but feel a little bored! I will admit that I sometimes feel like a lot of fiction is the same with the same subjects but I’ll miraculously find some more “unique” ones and my faith in fiction will be restored again! I definitely need to read more non-fiction though…

  10. Caroline says:

    Yes, I sometimes feel guilty when I’ve been too busy to read. I tell myself that it doesn’t matter how many books I read each year and it should be a pleasure not a task.

    • kmn04books says:

      I agree! That’s why I was a bit reluctant to start a reading “challenge” because I wanted it to be about the books that I did get to read and not focus on the number of books (although I did give myself a low goal and I’m happy with it).

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