Reading shouldn’t be an obligation… (a discussion)

We all have that book (or…several books) that we’ve been wanting to read forever. Perhaps they’ve been sitting on our shelves for ages, or we’ve been meaning to borrow it from the library for a while now.

While TBRs are, of course, inevitable, lately I’ve been wondering if they’re contributing to this sort of obligation I’ve been developing towards reading. Reading has always been my greatest love, and my greatest escape, but recently it’s started to feel like a bit of a chore. I used to devour books, sometimes having to find a new one each day. Now, I find myself counting pages and growing impatient. There are many things that might be adding to this frustration: my reading goal, my desire to produce reviews at a consistent pace, my growing list of books I “need” to read…a lot of it stems from the pressure I put on myself to cycle through books. I’m beginning to wonder if this is affecting my reading, because now it seems like I read for quantity instead of enjoying a book to the fullest. Some of this might come from the label I’ve given myself: “reader”. As a reader, I must enjoy books, I must read a certain amount, then I must review them–or that part of my identity is false, it’s fabricated. I know this is not the case, but sometimes I can’t help feeling that way, especially since I’ve started blogging. I wanted this to be a cathartic experience, but sometimes it can be stressful because I feel that, to be a successful reader and book blogger, I can’t stop reading or posting–ever. 

Now I’ve realized: I need to give myself a little room to breathe. I’m not going to guilt myself over being 7 books behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. I’m not going to feel bad when it takes a couple weeks to read a book that would normally take me a couple days. It’s not healthy, and it’s not promoting this love that I’ve held for books my whole life. So, the books that have been sitting on my shelf can hold tight for a little bit, because I’ll get to them when I can. I want to crave reading like I used to, I want it to be a true release–not something I feel guilty about when I don’t feel like doing it.

41qhpu2riblWriting this down makes me realize that I have every right to focus on other aspects of my life and spend my free time doing other things. I think I’m going to relax my pace on my blog, and probably books as well. I won’t force myself to do it; I’m going to read when I feel the need and write when I feel the need. For anyone who’s read this far…I sincerely appreciate you tolerating my ramblings.
I’m going to start this new direction in my reading with something I recently picked up: Florence Welch’s Useless Magic. It’s a poetry book, which is a genre I’ve never really explored. It has a beautiful aesthetic with thick, creamy pages and gorgeous photographs. I’m going to take my time savoring it, and see if I can get a little of the reading bug to manifest itself meanwhile.

Happy reading,

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15 thoughts on “Reading shouldn’t be an obligation… (a discussion)

  1. Brianna @ Brianna the Bookworm says:

    This is such an outstanding post. Thank you for writing it. It can be easy to get caught up in the pressure, but at the end of the day, we all have to remind ourselves that it’s about our passion for reading. I love what you are doing to get yourself back to that place. I recently received Useless Magic as a gift, and I might do the same; just sit down and try to savor the beauty of it.

    I wish you luck with this new journey and happy reading to you as well. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you, I really appreciate the kind words. I hope I start to feel the love of reading again. And I wish you the best of luck as well, if you’re doing the same with Useless Magic!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachana says:

    This post has made me realize one of the reasons why tbrs just don’t work for me! I feel like I’m obligated to read certain books and that makes reading less fun for me. I’m really glad you’re giving yourself some space! I’m 11 books behind on my reading challenge and..tbh I was kind of frustrated with myself at first but now I’m trying to make peace with that because it’s not a big deal at the end of the day. Useless Magic looks pretty cool! What are your thoughts on it so far?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lauren says:

      Yeah, having a TBR is a lot of pressure…and it’s totally unnecessary because we should be reading the books we want to, when we want. We shouldn’t have them lined up, it makes it feel like more of a job. So far I love Useless Magic! I’m a big fan of Florence+the machine, so I know most of the lyrics, but the poetry is just beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Callum McLaughlin says:

    Great post! I think many of us fall into the trap of piling the pressure on ourselves to read as much as possible, and so it’s only natural to feel a little burnt out sometimes. I avoid TBRs for the same reason; and try to just read what I’m in the mood for, when I’m in the mood for it! But like you said, with the pressure of having a bookish blog, and being a self-proclaimed bookworm, it can definitely be tricky to get the balance right sometimes.

    Hope you enjoy Useless Magic! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Library Key says:

    I feel like such a bum when I don’t finish a book in a week, like I used to in high school or college–when I had the time for it. But then again, as long as you like reading, you’re still a bookworm. It’s like being a writer, you know–you write, you’re a writer. You read, you’re a bookworm. It’s not a competition as to who can read the most. We ought to enjoy each moment we have with a book rather than worrying about what’ll be next. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lauren says:

      I totally agree. Sometimes I get caught up in the act of reading instead of the actual book… but you are so right in saying that we don’t really have to prove “bookworm” status—if we enjoy it, then so it is. Thanks for your insights, I truly appreciate it! 🙂

      Like

  5. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

    This is a wonderful post!!! I definitely feel a sense of obligation when it comes to reading when it comes to arcs and sometimes I find myself crippled by that sense of responsibility. Right now I feel myself burned out on fantasy and am arranging my TBR a bit to mix things up, but am really looking forward to a more balanced reading schedule come September!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A.M. Molvik says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! It is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we have to read something that we sometimes need to be reminded that reading is supposed to be something that we enjoy. I almost did not click on this post, but I am so glad that I did. I really needed to hear this right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lauren says:

      Of course, I’m glad that you are able to relate to how I’m feeling about it. Reading should be fun and relaxing and I think bloggers forget that sometimes. Thanks for leaving your thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • A.M. Molvik says:

        Yeah, it can be easy for bloggers to forget because often they want to read something so that they can write about it on their blogs. Though many of us started our blogs for fun and those too can sometimes feel like an obligation, although most of the time I love having a blog.

        Like

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