This is part one of a three-part mini-series on how to read more. In this article, I’m going to look at what made me fall out of love with reading and how I managed to turn it around.
November 30th 2019, the day I gave up reading.
I know this because it’s marked on my Goodreads list, specifically by one book; The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. It was a book I’d been looking forward to reading for some time.
According to reviews, it’s full of boasting about murders he committed, people he betrayed, and the stunning sculptures he created along the way. How could you not be gripped by that?
However, when I did finally settle down to read it, I felt my desire slowly seep away. In fact, slowly is being kind, it more or less dried up.
By chapter two, what was supposed to be a significant milestone in my reading list, instead became a thorn in my literary side. I found the prose dull and lifeless, like the ramblings of a delusional idiot.
To summarise, boring, boring, boring.
My biggest problem though came not with the book, but from myself.
I had an internal conflict that stopped me from physically putting it down. I kept telling myself, ‘you’re not that guy, don’t be a quitter.’ After all, to put the book down meant giving up, right? If I did that, then why even bother reading at all?
This self-defeating attitude lasted a few days, in which time I continued to trundle through at around ten pages a day.
I also suffered from another conundrum; the one concerning social pressures, more specifically, Goodreads. If I marked it as unfinished, everyone would be able to see my stupidity. They’d know I’m not capable of reading a book of this magnitude.
By day three, the misery became too much to bear. Looking at the remaining pages, around four hundred, I put the book down. Coincidentally, this is when I fell into my reading slump.
The next few weeks passed on with me, barely reading much. It felt like a chore to read anything.
In hindsight, I think there are plenty of elitist readers who purposely pick out long challenging books so that they can bring them up at dinner parties. I’m looking at you Infinite Jest.
I’m inclined to think these types of people would fit the mould of Patrick Bateman, so sit as far away from them as possible. And whatever you do, don’t go back to their apartment!
Getting Over Myself
My reading slump was strangely quilled by a book of a similar size, Geek Love. I received it as a Christmas present, so I felt more inclined to read it. And it worked. It goes to show that it’s not always the size of a book that holds your interest, but the content within. Just because a book is long, doesn’t mean it’s boring and vice-versa.
Since then, I’ve thought about The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini a lot. I guess that’s why I’m now writing about it. I suppose this is a cathartic goodbye to a novel that plagued my conscience.
As I write this, I now feel liberated, not in a burning your bra kind of way, but more in a time to move forward approach.
Due to my new-found ability to give up on a book, I’m no longer a slave to the reading process. I read exactly what I want when I want. Most importantly, I read for the enjoyment it brings me and not the kudos it brings at dinner parties.
Additionally, there’s an added bonus to doing this too.
I now read more than ever before. By merely dropping a lousy book and moving onto the next, it’s allowed for the side-stepping of any potential pitfalls that come with reading slumps.
Next week I’ll be bringing you all of my tips on how to read more books than ever before.
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