Thursday, October 17, 2013

Confessions of a reader who has to sometimes force herself to read

The readathon this past weekend got me thinking about my own reading habits. And also about how sitting around and reading all day is not really how I'd choose to spend my time. Which I feel is a sort of blasphemy for a bookish person.

I get the feeling the point of the readathon is to give ourselves the excuse to spend the whole day reading. The idea is almost that this is what we'd like to do anyway, but real life gets in the way. So this day is more to tell other people to leave us readers be more than it is a challenge for us to spend the day just reading. You know, for most participants anyway.

I was talking to a friend last Friday and I told her my weekend plans included doing a readathon. She paused and said "Huh. I don't think I could do that. I'd get too restless." My first instinct was to defend it. But then I thought about it and honestly, I don't do that much reading just sitting around at home, not unless I have something to compel me to read: a story I'm especially sucked into (this doesn't happen all that often, even when I do enjoy a book), I have to read to meet a deadline (like for a readalong), a readathon. Otherwise if I'm just hanging out at home I'm messing around online or playing Plants vs Zombies 2, or watching TV. Or honestly, a mix of those 3 things. On the one hand, reading requires too much focus, so I can't do it while doing other things. On the other hand, reading is always immersive enough. I can start reading, but I can also get easily distracted by pretty much everything around me.

But it can't just be things around me are distracting. I do the majority of my reading on the LIRR and subway, which are not exactly bastions of peacefulness. But the distractions on public transportation are the sort I'm actively trying to ignore (the weird smell of the guy next to me, the fact that this lady and I are currently sharing 2sq feet of personal space, the crazy man screaming that he's not short even though no one told him he's short and he is really of average height) while the things at home are vying for my attention in a positive way (I need to kill more zombies so I can get more keys and get better plants to kill more zombies). OK, maybe not positive. But just "things I'd like to ignore" and "things I like to pay attention to, even if maybe I should do less of it".

In this case a readathon, be it the Dewey 24 hour one or Tika's mini-readathon, gives me the push to do something I enjoy doing but don't usually do if I'm just hanging around the house. Even then I have to remind myself, "No! Do not go online. Stop that. Sit down and read." I'm not hating my time reading. But I do have to work to stay focused on reading instead of doing anything else.
My readathon wrap up, in GIF form
Am I alone in this? OK, I don't actually believe I'm alone in this, but I guess how many other people have to make themselves read, even when it's something they want to be doing, and that they enjoy doing?