I hated reading as a kid. My dad would often tell me reading is important and out of the urge of being a lazy rebel, I’d ignore a lot of such suggestions. In 8th grade, my best friend from school got me hooked to books. She was an avid reader, a very mature reader for her age. I remember she gifted me a Jeffery Archer book once on my birthday because she wanted to read it (it’s still with her!). We shared books, a lot, and I was always fascinated by the amount she could read.
Over years, I read a decent amount of books, lots of fiction, some non fiction, some for study, some to distract myself from academic reading. I absolutely loved the feeling of wanting to go back to a book, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. The feeling where you’re just by yourself, imagining the world that the words are drawing you into. The feeling of diving into a narrative when you want and getting out of it whenever you like. Almost surreal!
Since almost a year now, I struggled finishing a book. I was reading 4-5 books at the same time, never finishing a single one. I realised I was pushing my ambition of wanting to do more things, achieve etc. on reading more too.
I realised my attention span had reduced. I was so used to consuming content on social media, quick reading for research-based work, that I’d almost forgotten what reading a book felt like. Reading suddenly felt like a chase, how many words I read in a minute, how many pages in an hour, what’s my reading speed, how it’s helping me gain more knowledge, facts, even sometimes perspective. Then, along with a burn out in other areas of life, I had a reading burn out too. I couldn’t finish a single book for more than a year, I often drew conclusions from parts of the books I read and left midway. Ironic enough, judged books by their covers and got attracted to fancy titles, bought them, downloaded them on Kindle (Maximum privelege) and took pride in the ever increasing virtual and real bookshelf size.
Very recently, a few months ago I had a massive breakdown out of a burn out, in all areas of life (yes, that’s quite real! I am going through a burn out at 28. And it’s way larger an issue than it seemed in stories, on paper and in talks and conversations). Now, while going through all the processes of self care, all the processes for better mental health, I suddenly realised I’d lost this interest of reading books. I was suddenly feeling nostalgic about the feeling of being hooked to a book (all book nerds I’m sure would agree how nice a feeling it is!). I immediately went to my team’s WhatsApp group and asked ‘what to do!?’. My team is a bunch of readers, writers and super enthusiastic people, creative nerds you could call us! I instantly was told this is a ‘Reader’s block’ and I should restart with fiction, mysteries and keep a person to give updates about how much I read. So, I Did! I picked a book called ‘The Bookish World of Nina Hill’ (Bookish World as a phrase was enough for me to get this started), started reading, got hooked to it and FINISHED IT!
Now, this may seem amusing to some people who have never read or even people who read a lot. However small or big deal it is, it made me feel the nicest, after months! I can’t describe how I got a part of me back by just finishing a book. I don’t know what attached feelings I have to the feeling of reading books, but it surely is something that is very me I realised. It’s a part of me that’s not a part of the battles I fight, the chase I try to ace, the things I do, etc. It’s just a part of me, that’s it.
Something as small as this makes me feel like I can rediscover a lot of such parts of me that are totally mine, not a part of any chase, any circle, just characters of my narrative, my story. My hope resurfaced! I hope I can find more hope in books, with books, for books. Here’s to BOOKing hope!