A slow pace reading life

For the longest part of my life, I never paid attention to the books I was reading, meaning that I read what I wanted when I could and I purchased new books once in a while (the perks of not living close to a library). I knew about Goodreads but being an “all or nothing” kind of person I wanted to record every single book in my bookcase before actually using it and it was just too much work.

Then, in 2014, when I started this blog, I discovered a whole new community of bibliophiles online and I got hooked into the book blogging and bookstagram world. I was impressed to see people religiously keeping lists of books read, sharing monthly TBR (to-be-read lists) and wrap-ups, participating in monthly and yearly challenges and so on. For a book lover like me, it was like an amusement park. I decided I wanted to be part of all this.

I started blogging about books and I even switched to a bookish theme on my personal Instagram account for a year or so. However, being a full-time University student was hard, very hard. I don’t know how universities work abroad, but here, as a cultural heritage student, my exams consisted of oral interviews with our professors, meaning that I had hundred pages books to learn by heart in order to be able to reply to the questions they would ask me. No papers to write, no midterm exams or things like that. So my life was spent on books and notes all the time. The last thing I wanted to do was to spend additional time reading.

I quickly started feeling guilty because I couldn’t even finish a single book each month and I kept seeing bloggers and bookstagrammers with huge bookcases who managed to finish more than 10 books per month even if they worked full time. I started to feel like there was something wrong with me and I couldn’t get why it took me so long to read books!

Then I discovered that people have different reading speeds, it’s something you have in your DNA and you can’t change it. Sure, you can try to improve it but does it really matter? Is being able to read 10 books a month versus 2 a better thing? In my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer.

During the last few years I’ve seen so many blog posts and articles giving advice on how to read more and I kept reading them because I really wanted to double my reading list. Somehow it worked because, according to Goodreads, my list of read books has organically grown during the years:

  • 2015: 23 books
  • 2016: 26 books
  • 2017: 29 books
  • 2018: 33 books

The truth is that I was running a race. I was competing with other bookstagrammers and bloggers I saw every day on the internet. My reading life had become a chore, something I did for numbers and stats, not just for pleasure anymore. And the worst thing is that I started reading what was popular on the internet, rather than what I actually wanted to read.

The slow living movement is kind of a trend right now so, please, don’t roll your eyes when you’ll read this but I’ve recently started reading slower. This means that I’ve been rereading my favorite books (mostly by Tolkien), read new (to me) books that aren’t popular online and, most importantly, I stopped counting them. I want to arrive at the end of 2019 without knowing how many books I’ve read this year. Maybe I’ll write a list just to remember the titles but it isn’t a priority for me anymore. And you know what? It feels amazing. I don’t care if it takes me 1 or 2 months to finish a book or just 2 weeks. I don’t share monthly TBR and wrap-ups. The only thing I’m keeping track of right now is the series I’m reading because I want to read the books in order without skipping them. I still log some books on Goodreads if I really enjoyed them but, for the most part, I don’t. Also, I regularly add the books I want to read to my Amazon wish list because I can easily check the price and purchase them directly from my Kindle.

14 thoughts on “A slow pace reading life

  1. I relate so much! I mean you start to feel the pressure but as a blogger since 2009 (2010 I opened my blog) I am really not stressed aymore… that was a long time ago. I learned that I prefer to enjoy the books on my own pace 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Alice, I enjoyed this post. I too sometimes feel the need to create reading lists and participate in challenges. It seems like smart, influential people read a ton of books. Like how Teddy Roosevelt read a book a day! In the end, I enjoy reading most when it is on my own time. Although, I do enjoy the occasional book club. Looking forward to more of your posts! ~Lily

  3. This is a refreshing way to look at the way we read nowadays. I have a huge stack of books I haven’t touched since my son was born and it’s totally unlike me. I just needed this reminder that I’m only ever doing this for myself and not for some unnecessary goal.

  4. I love reading blogs like this. I felt the same way after a few years deep in the community. It really just became too much. I enjoy talking about books online since I have no one in my real life to do so with… but it’s amazing how you can get sucked in. I’ve always wondered how people have the time to read so many books in a month and still keep up with their lives.

  5. I am always amazed at how many books people read on IG. When I’m in the zone I can easily read a book in a day but there are times like just recently I struggled to read one in six weeks. Reading is such a pleasure it’s a shame to put pressure on it with timing and what to read. Totally agree with you on this post!! Enjoy slowing down

  6. Hi Alice!
    I loved this post. It is something that I think we all have to go through nowadays with our online life if we are readers and tend to frequent the bookish and literary corners of the internet. It’s difficult because I know my own feelings about the subject ebb and flow whenever I think about this. Yes, it is stressful and I do sometimes find myself frustrated because I don’t read as much as others appear to do, however, I realise that that is an unnecessary frustration because reading is not a competition. At the same time I do like the idea of a record of all the books I own and have read and how I obtained them. Yet, I don’t really feel 100% comfortable with Goodreads but so much is already in it that starting from scratch seems like too much work. There’s no easy answer for this but knowing I’m not alone in enjoying slow reading is definitely awesome!

  7. Hi Alice! This post was a lovely read. While I was never into the whole “bookstagram” thing (mostly because I didn’t know it existed until recently), I did start taking my Goodreads account seriously in 2013, when I got my very first e-reader, my trusty Kobo Glo. Because of how portable and convenient it was, I read a ton of books (and manga) that year — and I thought I’d be able to keep it up in the following years. My first few challenges were quite ambitious (50 books per year!) and somehow I managed to meet them, but in 2016 I decided to cut that number down to 25, as I was struggling to meet my goal 50 yearly books. I realised that what was important to me was reading the books that I wanted, at my own pace, rather than keep up with an online challenge I’d set myself. And, with all the pressure off, I actually managed to get even better results — I was meeting the goals, yes, but most importantly, I was finally happy with my reading habits again! It’s a fantastic feeling.

    In the end, we don’t read to meet big numbers and make our “read” lists longer — we read for our own pleasure, we enjoy reading for its own sake. And that will never change, no matter what technology or social media comes up with. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Faith. I completely agree with you! I’ve stopped setting a Goodreads challenge every year for the same reason. 🙂

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