I’m trying to come to terms with a massive shift in myself lately. I’m still processing. I’ve got as far as acknowledging the truth of it, but not quite as far as calm acceptance.
I don’t like to read books any more.
Oh boy, passthepaperbag, would you?
This is the girl who would get through 10 library books in a week. This is the girl who filled half her luggage space with books when going on holiday This is the girl with the serious Amazon addiction. This is the girl with well over a thousand books in her teeny tiny cottage.
Here’s how it happened. When I was really really ill, earlier in the year, I couldn’t read. Nothing made sense, I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t even choose what book to read. That beautiful, easy escape from reality was closed to me. For three months, or so, I didn’t read. Then, as my concentration started to improve, I began reading again, but only non fiction. Diaries, collections of letters, biography, that sort of thing. Not very enthusiastically, but I made myself. ‘Gotta get back to normal’, I told myself. But I still couldn’t concentrate enough to follow a plot, or remember who the various characters were, so fiction was out.
Once properly better, I tried fiction again. Nope. It wouldn’t stick. The characters still got muddled in my head, the situations didn’t ring true, I struggled through a book, and felt relief once it was over. ‘I must not be quite better yet,’ I thought. I gave it more time.
In the meantime, I stuck to non fiction. And at some point, I realised, this can’t be a concentration problem, because I don’t have any problem reading a book now. I zipped through one travel book in a matter of a few hours. I just don’t like fiction any more.
I think that it’s lost its magic. When I needed to step away from my reality the most, it didn’t work, the door was closed. The enchantment has gone. And in any case, I don’t want to escape reality any more. I did enough of that over the years, and it didn’t do me any good. Nowadays I’m working very hard to be present, to be in the moment, to fully experience life, instead of hiding away with my nose in a book. This makes me very nervous – it’s like walking on a tightrope without that safety net beneath you – but it’s what I need to do. I’m getting the hang of it.
In addition to all of the above, I don’t want to give the time to reading that I used to. I want to be doing, not reading. I want to be productive, creative. There are so many things I’ve interested in, so many projects I want to make, so many skills to learn. This is how I want to spend my leisure time.
So, the very little reading that I do now tends to be instructive. I’m working through the Self Coaching book I told you about last week. I have some modern quilt books on order. I dip into the occasional biography or diary (although rarely). And of course, I read lots online, tutorials, forums, blogs. The only fiction I get through is in the occasional audio book, which I can listen to while doing other things, and drift in and out of without really paying much attention to it. A soothing background noise. Mostly of books I have read many times in the past.
It’s all a bit strange and unsettling. But then, any kind of growth is an uncomfortable process, right?