I have a dark confession make. As of this writing I have only read 2.5 books in 2014, compared to the six or seven books I had read at this point in 2013, that is embarrassing. Sure I’ve been busier with writing and at the gym, but there have been plenty of nights where I could have read, and chose to do something else instead. Let’s not even talk about the House of Cards weekend. I’ve felt guilty about the nights that have been spent at bars or at the movies instead of on my couch, under a comfortable blanket with a good book in my hand. I spent so many nights last year reading it feels like I’m cheating on myself by trying to have a social life.
The goal for the rest of February is to read through the books that have been sitting on my nightstand for the past couple of weeks. Now that I’ve had a couple of weeks to cool down on Stephen King’s errant Twitter remarks about the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen situation, I am going to finish the second half of my reread of On Writing. I’m also going to plow through a copy of Zadie Smith’s, Changing My Mind, which my sister is letting me borrow, and A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. I’ve read the first two chapters of Goon Squad, and look forward to spending some quality time with it in the next couple of days.
On most nights I try to fit in about an hour of reading before bed. Last year I had no problem staying awake and reading 200 pages or more before sleep overtook, but this year has been a completely different story. On nights where I run a couple of miles and spend an hour or two writing, I am ready to fall asleep almost immediately after getting into bed. This has been a bit of a Godsend to be honest, for years I’ve had a terrible time getting to sleep because of how much my brain would race with a million little anxious thoughts. It seems the best cure for insomnia is just to completely wear yourself out throughout the day. It's 7:30 right now, and I am already exhausted from the two mile run, 10 mile bike ride, jump roping and wind sprints I did at the gym today. (Humblebrag?) I can hear my bed calling to me already, and it has the most sultry, alluring voice I've ever heard. My newly found, healthy sleep habits has left me with a bid of a conundrum as to when I’m supposed to read. I’ve already cut out almost all live TV out of my life. The only show’s that I am actively watching are True Detective and Community. I still spend entirely too much time browsing the internet at night, and my podcast feed is out of control. Last night I listened to a 3.5 hour podcast instead of reading, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
I think there is a part of me that needed a little break from the constant reading routine. It’s not that I found I find reading every night to be a monotonous grind, far from it. But even with the most pleasurable activities, there’s nothing wrong with taking a couple of weeks to catch you breath before diving back into it. Hm. I just realized how that last sentence could be construed. I regret nothing. The obsessive in me gets really stressed out when I fall behind a goal I’ve set. Everytime I go to Goodreads I get stressed out when the yearly book trackers says I’m X percent behind schedule. It’s a completely ridiculous way to go about living a life, but it’s also the spark that has lit the fire under my ass to improve the aspects of my life that I thought were subpar. The thing that I have to remind myself everyday is that there is a balance between obsession and apathy that I need to reach if I want to sustain these lifestyle changes. It’s just as harmful to try to do everything as it is to do nothing.
The great thing about books is that they are not going anywhere, and I don't have to worry about people spoiling the books that are in my backlog. I can read them at my own pace. I'm sure there will be weeks where I finish a bunch of books, and even if I don't end the year having read 51 books, it's not the final number that counts, it's how the books enrich my life that matters. The funny thing is, just a year ago, I would have never had a second thought about how much I was reading. i would have been happy to finish a handful of books in my spare time throughout the year. It feels like my brain has been rewired to want to consume as much literature as possible. It's become a ravenous animal that gets hunger pains when I go more than a day or two without reading. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a very hungry animal to go feed.