Once Upon a Time I Was a Reader

I always had a book with me growing up. Any free time at school was filled by reading. Even in high school, I would rush to my next class to spend the extra transition time reading. I read while I watched TV. If I was into a book, I would stay up until 3 A.M. because it would be impossible to put it down. While in college my pleasure reading was diminished, but I at least always had a book I was reading that was not for a class.

This continued into adulthood, but somewhere in the last couple of years, it has changed.

I have lost my reading fervor. I can’t tell you the last time that I was preoccupied with a book to the point that I would pull it out at every possible moment. I don’t feel drawn in like I use to. I have a stack of books and electronic books in my Amazon account that I start and stop and start again, unable to connect enough to the story to make picking it up after the kids are in bed worth the energy. Plus, there is no staying awake no matter how interesting the story is. I borrowed The Maze Runner electronically from the library. It is definitely a page turner, fast-paced with a good mystery at its heart. It was automatically returned yesterday. I was only halfway through. In two weeks, I could only read half of a teen book. I am now 24th on the waiting list. If this happened when I was 14 or 15 or even 20, I would have had to buy it. Now? I can wait.

And I just keep asking myself why?

I think partly it is there is so much more to fill up my brain than there use to be. There just isn’t room for the preoccupation of a current story. And my passion has gone to other things that require all my energy and attention. In my youth, I had so little responsibility and demands on my time, my mind could live with fictional characters at great length with no detriment to my real life interactions. Plus? I was not popular. If I didn’t have a band thing or a Shakespeare Troupe thing, I didn’t have a thing. Fictional characters did not judge me based on the height of my bangs or the label on my jeans. I could pretend that Mr. Darcy would totally find me pleasurable to look at even if high school boys thought I looked like their kid sisters. Characters didn’t know about my parents’ divorce and the awkward situations my friends might see if they came over. And as a young adult, I had a long commute and evenings in an apartment that needed very little attention with a dog who just loved to curl up. Now? None of those things are part of my life anymore. My time and even my thoughts are hardly ever my own. My real life is now worthy of all of my time and passion. Which is wonderful. I love my real life.

But I know my story passion is still there as I do get enthralled in audiobooks. When I can get into the story while doing other things like driving, work-outing, cooking, or cleaning, it is easier. Motherhood thy name is multi-tasking.

But I miss the printed word. I miss giving the characters my own voice. I miss curling up and not multi-tasking, giving something my attention for no other reason than it pleases me.

Ultimately, it comes down to this…. Dance of Dragons bored me to the point that I haven’t even finished it.

I think the world of reading, for me, has been forever dulled.

Well, maybe not forever.

If Tyrion rides a dragon to The Wall, stopping by King’s Landing to turn Cersei into ash along the way, my pilot light might be re-set.

7 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time I Was a Reader

  1. This really struck a chord with me. I’ve had similar thoughts–I read incessantly when I was younger. I was also a really prolific writer, which is something I really struggle to do anymore. And while I still read quite a bit, I was kind of shocked–I keep a list of all of the books I’ve read since Jan. 1, and I’m only at 39. Which is objectively a lot, but…not for me.

    I honestly think I can trace a lot of it to the Internet, both because I spend an insane amount of time just surfing around with no real purpose, and also because it’s killed my attention span. I really want to try a digital diet–I don’t want to become Amish, but I spend WAY more time online than I should.

    • Social media is definitely an issue. I now know if I want to read before bed, I cannot just check Twitter really quickly before opening the book. I can binge watch Scandal on Netflix but won’t read an article that is more than 2,000 words, so I don’t know what that says about my attention span anymore.

  2. I always had a book–at least one–on me, and in the works. And I used to write constantly. That’s what five-section spiral notebooks were for, right? Now I read a little, and I write almost never, even though that’s why I got the iPad and the bluetooth keyboard. But I am easily distracted by social media and don’t get any writing done (although I do read on the bus at least part of each trip).

    It’s also time. And exhaustion. And a little girl who is saying “Come along, Mommy,” and making it hard to finish typing this sentence. Gotta go.

  3. I completely sympathize. While I have gotten back into reading lately (well, there’s a spreadsheet involved and what gal can resist a spreadsheet?) I still struggle to get into any book in particular – once I’ve finished something, I usually need some “required” reading time to make me start something new. Thankfully, I have lunch @ work every day, so that kinda forces me to keep up – mainly b/c I get embarrassed if I bring my ipad and watch Netflix too much!

  4. I used to read every free moment too, often staying up all night just to finish a book I was really into. The last few years (and, no, not just since I had a kid) that has diminished, and I find it slightly upsetting.

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