This isn’t as much of a discussion as it is a decision, but I still thought I’d post this under ‘discussion’ because this is a topic we can all talk about, and we all might have various views on.
So what’s happened is, I’m tired. I’m tired and freaked out worried about a ton of things and suffer through mild panic modes where my mind screams at me about a) how much studying I have to do and how much portion is left for my board exams and b) how I’m not really reading a lot. I don’t know what the fuck is happening and how I let things get this way, but I’m just mentally terrified of all the ‘this year will make or break your life’ dialogues which my teachers and random other strangers I don’t care about constantly throw at me, and the thing is. It’s all true. I know that this year is probably the most important academic year of my life, because it’s based on this one year that I can get into a good college and because of the fact that I’m aware of this, I’m all the more scared. (And to think that August is coming to an end? Tell me this is a JOKE)
And on top of all this stress : I’m worried about the number of books I’m reading and whether I’m reading enough. And honestly, this worry itself worries me. (Am I crazy? I think I am).
I’ve been noticing for the past few months, that every month I begin my reading pretty stress-free, with a set TBR in my head (which is always practical; I usually don’t make ‘ambitious’ TBRs) and I make my way through the books calmly. Mid-way through the month, something strikes. My mind goes blank, and I look back and realize that I haven’t really read a lot in the first-half of the month. I think about how I’ve been reading steadily, but still haven’t accomplished much. And then, when only the last 10-12 days of the month are remaining, I go berserk.
I start cramming reading into every nook and cranny of my daily routine, reading between classes, reading while watching tv, reading while talking to someone, reading before sleep even if my eyes are begging me to shut them, and just in general, squeezing a few pages into anywhere that I can. Since studying takes up a majority of the day, reading never gets enough priority and thus I have to end up squeezing books into any time that I can find. I start keeping goals, and set page numbers (or percentages, if on my kindle) to complete on a particular day. I start scheduling what to read and when to read and how much to read and all this for two reasons which are as useless as the p in psychology : 1) I hate to have less than 6 book on my monthly wrap-up and 2) I hate having a book only half-read at the end of the month; I have this crazy need to complete the books that I’m reading before the last date of the month because OCD sucks.
And today, while watching TV (and reading, invariably) – an epiphany struck me. [So, a little back story : I have four books that I’m currently reading, and all of those books can be finished within the 31st of August if I stick to the plan I have. That is, I’ve literally assigned page numbers (for the physical book), percentage (for the kindle books) and number of minutes (for the audiobook) to be read per day and since I’ve been following this schedule for about 6 days now, I’m right on track and if I follow this mental crazy schedule of mine, I’ll easily complete all the four books within the end of the month.]
So today while watching TV, I was reading Cress. Now, Cress is the book which I take to school and read only in school (and my per day page TBR is 50 pages) but today I didn’t read in school because my friends just did not let me read and even I wasn’t feeling like it so I thought chuck it. While coming back home, I felt guilty. For not having read those 50 pages, and thinking that I’d have to go home and read up those 50 pages because otherwise I’ll be behind. So I came back home, had lunch and then started watching Masterchef (that’s the only thing I watch on TV) and today that too I couldn’t do properly because I was reading those goddamn 50 pages. (Yeah that’s my level of OCD; you can be surprised or amused).
And in the amidst of all that : it struck me. I HATE DOING THIS.
I hate treating reading like a chore, or a task. I hate scheduling page numbers like this because it is foolish and stupid and doesn’t really count as ‘reading’. I know that attaching such things to reading makes it a task, or a compulsion, and that steals the essence of the book completely. But what to do, I have this weird obsession with completing books before the month ends and read at least 6 books a month. But today while reading Cress I realized that I hated it. Not the book (the book is amazing) but this whole ‘compulsion’ attached to it.
Last night I was reading Six of Crows and my eyes were nearly drooping and I was really tired (coz school) and in spite of my tiredness, I didn’t stop reading because I had to read a certain minimum percentage of the book. And here too, the book is amazing but I couldn’t enjoy the process of reading because of this weird obsession.
There are conflicting demands in me. At one side, I don’t want to compulsively read anything; I want to enjoy and take pleasure in reading but at the same time, I have these stupid compulsions and you know what? The first step I have to fight this stupidity is to stop doing wrap-ups altogether.
Now, I’m in no way saying that doing wrap-ups are wrong. I’m just saying that I need to stop doing wrap-ups because it’s just detrimental to my reading. For the rest of 2016, I’m not going to be doing any more wrap-ups. (You can see the books I read through my reviews). I’ll wrap up the books I read in these five months (August-December) after the end of this year. This way, no compulsion, no obligation. I want to read what I want, when I want, and how much I want. I want to keep away a book after reading one sentence, without constant worries plaguing me about how I’ve not read enough.
Even though I’ve decided not to do wrap-ups, my mind still doesn’t feel at peace. I still feel strangely helpless, and I can only hope that with time, this gets better! After this year, 2017 onwards, I’ll stay away from books for the first three months because my boards are from mid-Feb to March and I’d rather not read in that excessively stressful period. After boards, I’ll decide what to do, but I doubt I’ll get back to doing monthly wrap-ups. I’ll just wrap up every 5 books that I read, regardless of the time I read them.
As for TBR, I don’t have any reason for stop doing these, but since I’m anyway not doing a wrap-up, doing a TBR doesn’t really make sense. So I’m giving up those too. (Tho ofc I’ll keep doing occasional TBRs like TBR for the summer, or TBR for a readathon etc.)
So that was it for my discussion. I’m sorry if I bored you, or plagued you with excessive weirdness, but I just had to get this out. I’m so glad I did.