I will be honest with all of you. April was not a good reading month for me. I started two books and didn’t finish either of them. I have a goal to read at least 2 books a month, which so far I had been able to keep up with, but last month I was a bit burnt out. Somehow, even recreational reading can feel competitive and cause reader fatigue, something that I’d like to dive into a bit more in this post.
“Reading Fatigue” is a term that the reading community has started using, or at least I only heard about it recently, but then I experienced it and it made perfect sense. Reading fatigue is the lack of motivation and energy to read. I think that this term is different than the classic “reading slump”, which I define as the inability to pick up a new book, or the inability to continue a new book, because you just aren’t feeling reading. What’s the difference? Well, reading fatigue encompasses more than just recreational reading.
Reading fatigue is something that I think a lot of people fall into without realizing it. Most of our lives are spent looking at screens, reading emails, texts, reports, articles, and so on. We spend hours and hours reading something and having to have something productive come out of that reading. I mean, I have spent the last six years of my life reading to get something out of it! University is often designed to make you read and read and read and read for an outcome. To write an essay, report, study for an exam. It’s all productive.
So, you’ve just spent the larger part of your day looking at a screen and reading words. Now you’re going to pick up a book and read more words… for no reason? I know, seems like it would be great to just relax and read a good book, and it is, but last month was incredibly busy for me. I had a lot going on, I was tired and burnt out and stressed and still living in the mentality that I needed to read productively. So picking up a book to just read and enjoy almost felt like too much work. My brain was just not in the mood.
I started to books at the beginning of the month with the goal to finish them by the end, but it never happened. At first I was upset about it. I mean, come on? I see all the people I follow on Instagram reading 5, 10, 15 books a month, I see Booktubers doing their wrap-ups with huge stacks of books, I see myself getting behind in my Goodreads goal. Well, now doesn’t reading start to feel competitive? I feel like I’m losing because I didn’t read anything. I feel like I’m behind, but I’m not. Reading may feel competitive when you are caught up in the reading community, because everyone else is reading and talking about their reading.
Productive reading on one side and competitive reading on the other. No one said reading needed to be a competition and no one said all reading needs to be productive, but that’s the world we are living in, isn’t it? It’s hard to just shut down and take a breath. So, if you are feeling fatigued from all the words on pages and screens and from staring at words all day long, don’t feel bad about not picking up a book. Watching TV, listening to music, enjoying your favourite podcast are all perfectly acceptable ways to spend your time, even if you would want to be reading but just cant. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t reading as much as the people around you. We all have our own lives and we all read at our own pace. There is no quota for the number of books you need to read in a year. If you enjoyed something this year you were successful.
Keep doing what you love, friends. Read when you want to, not because you should.