Beyond the Blurb | How the Stress of Reading Can Kill the Love of It

Happy Monday, darlings,

Since I’ve somewhat taken a short step back from the blogging scene, I noticed many bloggers struggle with reading challenges, marathons, and even book slumps. Now, until recently, I was in the latter. And it took me a while to get out of it. Since I’m out, I realize I’ve put too much pressure on myself to not only complete my Goodreads Challenge but also read quicker.

Have readers and bloggers turned reading into a sport, not kept it a cherished pasttime? I believe we have. And more of us are understanding the adverse effects of that shift.

Amber from Ambreads brought the topic on her Twitter account, and she sparked a thought that hasn’t gone away. For years, I noticed I didn’t care about my GR Challenge. I usually set it at twenty books for an entire year. Now, I set it at fifty and hope to exceed it. But that change wasn’t as subtle as I wanted it to. When I began blogging full-time— and frankly, this post convinced I am blogging almost every dayI knew I had to consume more books to talk about, review about, and include in lists. I wanted to be more a part of the blogging community even though I was already involved in it.

But I noticed I put stress onto myself. The challenge I signed up for pushed me more toward the numbers, not the thrill of reading. I used to be more active on my GR account. I now tick another mark on that challenge and walk off. So how can stress kill the love of reading? Here’s what I figured out:

 

Reading Is Now a Chore

Has it come to that point though? As a blogger, I know it does. I know I have to read at least one book a week in order to stay on track. But I’m not.

As you can see, I am far behind my goal. I don’t care too much. Sure, three books aren’t bad. However, I’ve aimed for that goal for several years now. I am so used to going from one book to the next. Reading is almost like a mandatory task I must complete weekly. And I cannot fall behind my schedule, or I’ll wrestle with getting it back to where the number should be.

 

Consuming More without Reveling in Reading Defeats the Purpose

How can we love a book if we aren’t completely absorbed in it? We care more about the consuming, not the reveling. It took me years to understand this concept. As stated above, I didn’t give myself enough time to absorb the story I finished. I went to the next read. And maybe that may work for other readers. But I’m not entirely sure that it works for me.

Consuming thwarts the reason why we read. Reading gives an outlet to live a thousand lives, a thousand adventures. It should be enjoyed and protected. Unfortunately, our society taints this pastime.

 

Caring about the Numbers Isn’t the Point to Reading

A part of me still worries about the numbers, especially when it comes to blogging. I never knew that they’d affect my whole view on reading. But here I am, scratching my head, wondering how I got to this point. GR encourages readers to interact with each other. But it also encourages us to devour more books. We get weekly reminders of where we are in the challenge. Don’t get me started on challenges other bloggers create. I’ll talk about that topic in another discussion post.

 

Pushing Yourself Won’t Help

Honestly, we have enough outside forces pushing us to go, go, go. We do not need our inner voice to speed everything up. So don’t fall into the same trap as others, including myself, or you’ll regret that decision. You have a blog, younglings (furry, scaly, or human), and a job (or jobs). So don’t add more to your life. Life is stressful enough.

 

Stressing over Reading May Put You in a Reading Slump

Oh hell. I have to leave the best for last, right? Nice, Sib. Trust me on this. You’ll fall into a slump, you’ll question why you’re in it and how to get out of it, then you’ll get back on track. But you’ll fall into the same rut if you don’t see the cycle. See it for what it is. So let reading come naturally. If you’re behind on your challenge, then so be it. If you’re behind on the newly released titles, then so be it.

We need to find our way back to why we read and why we love reading. We can’t do that if we don’t acknowledge the fact that we’ve fallen into the consumer side of the industry.

 

Has challenges or stress killed your love of reading? Have you stopped doing challenges so you could find your way back to reading? What you do think? What do you think we readers can do?

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12 thoughts on “Beyond the Blurb | How the Stress of Reading Can Kill the Love of It

  1. “How can we love a book if we aren’t completely absorbed in it?” <— THIS!!

    OMG, I love this post! I have been having these same thoughts for the past few months and I'm glad that I'm not alone in feeling it. I have been in three slumps this year already and I know it's from pushing myself to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve actually minimized half of my ARC’s on Netgalley because of how stressed they were making me. They were back list ARC’s anyway so I didn’t feel too guilty letting those go. I also started rereading the Baby Sitter’s Club books on weekends as an easy way to let myself go when reading. It’s been a rather enjoyable reading month because of that. I have enjoyed most books this year because I now DNF books I don’t enjoy… for the most part. I struggled through one a few weeks ago because I liked the side characters. But that put me in a foul can’t choose what to read next mood for about 2 weeks. Still trying to get out of it.

    I always have to be reading something, but that’s me thinking that for myself. It’s just something I always have to do, kind of like how I always have to bring my e-reader with me even if I’m just going five minutes up the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I try to keep my reading as stress free as possible because I know the moment reading becomes a chore or stressful I’ll just stop and I don’t want that.

    What has really helped me is setting extremely low Goodreads challenges I KNOW I can meet without effort. I also allow myself to change my Goodreads challenge if I can see it’s not working. The best thing about the whole process is you can change it as away times as you like throughout the year.

    I’ve realised this year how terrible I am at sticking to and remembering other reading challenges and end up stressing over them towards the end of the year so I think I’ll need to start creating a more manageable way of dealing with that soon

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  4. That was me last year…I read a lot but I didn’t enjoy what I read. I put a lot of time into ARCs especially ones that I didn’t care about. Now I’m not stressing myself this year..I’m quick to DNF and I’m taking my time to read what I like. The GR challenge for me just reminds me to pick up a book.

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  5. I have definitely been stressing about my reading a lot lately and I relate to so much of what you say in this post. I agree that a lot of bloggers do seem to care a lot about the number of books we read, and I know that I’ve personally started focusing way more on the numbers than I used to, which I think has taken some of the enjoyment of reading away for me. I feel like reading has gotten weirdly competetive in the book community and people always seem to feel the need to brag about the 200 or 300 books they read, and honestly reading posts like that so frequently has made me feel bad about how little I read comparatively. It’s definitely a struggle to stop caring about the numbers and I hope I can do that eventually. Thank you for this thoughtful, insightful post!

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  6. As someone who has finally clawed herself out of a four month reading slump, this post really speaks to me on a visceral level. This is honestly why I set my Goodreads challenge super low every year – I set it to achieveable and then if I feel like it will continue to raise it as I read more. I don’t want to take the fun out of reading, but I am also goals oriented and enjoy achieving them. It’s a balance.

    But I have found the readathons are not good for me at ALL. So I don’t do them. I wind up stressed, feeling like I should be reading when I don’t feel like it, and then feel like a failure. I remember the first time I did one I read Contagion and it wowed me so much that I needed to sit with it… I didn’t want to dive into another book but felt compelled to. It was not a fun time.

    Great post, as always!

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  7. This is DEFINITELY something that I’ve been struggling with for some time now. It’s such a weird and unexpected experience because I am not/wasn’t 100% sure if I am/was feeling this exact way/doing that exact thing. Mostly that also included the question/thought process of: was/am I enjoying a book because everyone else loves it and I imagine/force that same feeling on myself or do I genuinely like it?? Am I subconsciously manipulating myself and fake-experiencing emotions to fit more on and be the version of myself that portrays that picture of being someone that reads A LOT?

    I kept reading to tell other people about what I read and not for the experience itself. I couldn’t accept that I had/have fallen into that black hole of ‘I perceive reading this book as “work” – may it be work to seem intellectual or work towards being more of a part of the reading/blogging community’ — doesn’t matter which of those two, it was/is work and I have to constantly remind myself and take a step back when falling back into that mindset. That can involve setting my goodreads challenge lower, dnfing books, not talking about books I read if I didn’t enjoy them etc. I have to force myself to not read when I realize that I’m not doing it for me and because I want to. As soon as realize that, I put the book away and only pick it back up when I’m doing it for me and for the experience itself and I’M BABBLING. I’ll stop now. This was super interesting to read!! Thank you for sharing! ❤

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  8. Ohmygosh, I’m so glad you brought this up! Back when I had a booktube channel, I felt the EXACT same way! How could I create exciting content if I wasn’t consuming books like they were going out of fashion? Luckily, booktube/bookstagram/book blogging has always been just a hobby for me, so as soon as I start to feel stressed, I take a step back. Hobbies should be FUN, they shouldn’t feel like a chore! It’s so much harder when you’re a full time blogger though, I can only imagine the stress 😦

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  9. Oh, I can definitely relate to this! I had the worst slump of my life last year, and part of what made it feel so awful was that I felt guilty for not reading! I wanted to read 100+ books like I did in previous years. I wanted to constantly have a book on hand. But you can’t force yourself to love something, and a challenge is fine as a goal, but not if you stress out over it. Now I set by Goodreads challenge really low, and then I increase it by 5-10 books every time I reach my goal. That way I still have a goal set, but I’m not stressing myself out too much

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