When did I stop reading?
More to the point, why? I was a prolific reader as a child. I read everything in sight – books, magazines, newspapers. A Friday trip to my village library was the ultimate after school treat. And packing a good selection of fiction was as essential as my swimsuit when it came to summer holidays. Even as a teenager, I continued to read with Sundays always ending in the same way. After a family roast dinner and ticking off the most urgent homework tasks, I’d sit at the kitchen table reading The Sunday Times – I’d skip the news but linger over the features and regular columns, always taking time to devour the in-depth interviews in the magazine supplement.
It’s reading that made me want to become a writer.
Over the years, the time I devoted to reading dwindled. It’s not like I don’t read at all. If I analyse the words I intake daily, I read plenty. I curl up next to my children with a book most evenings. But I always wish we’d started story time earlier because I hate having to say no when they plead for ‘one more chapter’. I also read a lot of information as part of my job. As a copywriter, I’ve developed the ability to scan read widely and efficiently when I’m researching a project. Outside of my work, I admit I scroll aimlessly and carelessly far too much. What I’m missing is time dedicated to a book or magazine for no reason other than pleasure.
I’m ashamed to say one of the books I’m reading I started almost two years ago. And now my nephew (age 11) has finished the same book before me, my competitive nature has kicked in and I HAVE to put some effort into getting to the end.
Why have I stopped reading?
This reduction in reading has been going on for a while. Building up over the years to a crescendo now where I’m bored and frustrated by the lack of literature in my life. Now more than ever. I’m yearning for time to READ, READ. For pleasure. With no purpose other than enjoyment. I’m craving the opportunity to lose myself in long essays on subjects that intrigue me. I’m determined to read even more with my children because sharing literature with my little ones is one of my favourite things. And I love children’s books. I want to properly immerse myself in absorbing every single word so I can enjoy language, and stories, and new perspectives.
I don’t think I’m unusual. There are all kinds of statistics out there showing that time spent reading for pleasure or personal interest has been on a steady decline for years. So, why have we stopped reading?
I’ve previously blamed becoming a mum. But in all honesty, this is one assault on my free time that I can’t truthfully blame my little angels for. Nevertheless, it’s a convenient excuse that I habitually wheel out whenever I’m faced with explaining a shortcoming that I know deep down is due to my laziness.
But if it’s not parenthood robbing me of reading time, what is? In honesty, it’s probably down to so many other things (or more accurately, so many screens) now competing for my brain space. Screens are easy and everywhere, so instead of reaching for my book I’ll:
- Pick up my phone and doom scroll aimlessly through the news
- Get caught up in social media conversations or lost in a tangle of WhatsApp messaging
- Browse the internet for something I saw on Instagram that I don’t need
- Binge watch another episode (or two) of my latest series of choice
Read more, scroll less
I think it’s time I changed this. So, new year, new me and all. I’ve made a pledge to read more and scroll less. Starting with finishing that book I mentioned earlier.
Book review coming soon. But don’t hold me to this.