I crawl into bed each night next to a perfectly stacked pile of books on my bed side table, all of which are half read (half is actually pushing it, I’ve probably only read the forewords). I love books, the smell, the feel of flipping though pages, the bright colours and individual design of each of their book jackets, I just hate reading. Even as a young adult, I was never really one to get into a book series (other than Goosebumps, but those books were only 25 pages long). My lack of interest for reading didn’t stop me from having an extensive book collection though. Thanks to the Scholastic book fair held at my school every year, I was able to collect hundreds of books that all went mostly unread. Flashing forward to today, the only books that I usually collect now are those that I find “pretty” enough to display on a book shelf or use in a flat lay for Instagram.
I’ve tried to see the benefits of reading, I love the idea of it all, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a member of Oprah’s book club? The coziness of curling up with a good book and a warm cup of coffee on a Sunday sounds so appealing to me, but as hard as I try, I’m sadly just not one of those people. Sundays are usually my day to watch bad reality tv marathons, so I’m not sure how reading seven chapters of descriptive narrative written in 11 point font really fits into my schedule of watching chefs make a four course meal out of chocolate wafers, eggplant and wonton wrappers on Chopped. I have managed to successfully get through a few books cover to cover mind you, but I’m certainly not one of these readers who will complete an entire book in just a few consecutive hours. It takes me, on average, about seven and a half years to completely read a book front to back. Ok, that’s an exaggeration obviously, but sadly I’m not far off, I literally just finished a book that I started in 2015. The problem is, the moment I try to switch my focus from television, Facebook or my cat doing that cute thing where he licks his paws to clean his face, my mind starts to completely wander and drift. As the thoughts in my head start to all run together with the words on the page, I find myself having to re-read the same paragraph over and over again until I eventually just call it quits and open up Pinterest.
I find that I generally have a much easier time reading a book if there is a humorous undertone (shocking, I know), rather than a serious one. Although, the Fifty Shades series was so seriously bad, that it was actually quite humorous. If something holds my attention with humour, I’ll stand a better chance of reading something in its entirety, but it’ll still take me longer than most. The other issue I often run into while reading, even if a book has captivated my interest, is that it completely knocks me the fuck out. If I’m having trouble shutting my brain off to sleep, literally all I have to do is open up a book, read the first page or two and I’m out like a light. Another topic that will often keep my interest is self-help, because usually it’s a topic I’ve chosen specifically for the hot-mess that is my current life situation. I’ve also noticed that they tend to increase the font size for the depressed and unmotivated as well, which is something I can respect and appreciate.
Just like all of us, I was forced to read boring, dreadful and so-called “classics” in high school English class, which as I’m sure you can guess, was painful for me. Unless you were going to grow up and become a communist, I’m not sure what the point of reading George Orwell’s 1984 was. Also, wouldn’t you think schools would update their damn curriculum already? Our parents and probably even our grandparents all read the same books in school, I know there isn’t a shortage of lesson-worthy topics and books, Amazon had to be invented for a reason. I would have benefited a lot more with having to read something more relevant like, He’s just not that into you, at least I would have learned some real shit about life and disappointment! Suffering through dry text books that were written in the 1970’s and trying to write entire essays from watching the movie to avoid reading the book became necessary skills…that I never really mastered. Barely coasting by, my educational years were pretty much spent BS’ing my way through by means of my creativity, my sucking up skills and basically just asking my parents for help constantly. Who knew I was actually teaching myself all the life lessons I ever really needed to succeed!
The only time that I can say that I truly enjoy reading a book, is when I’m trapped on an airplane between a snoring old man and a hipster listening to Indie music too loudly in his ear buds. Also, when the alternative to reading a book is staring aimlessly at the back of the aircraft seat in front of you and trying to flag down a flight attendant for a Dixie cup of bad coffee, suddenly diving into the overly narrated world of fiction doesn’t seem so tedious. I don’t understand those people who can read on the beach though, if you’re on vacation in some tropical place, chances are high that it’s probably hot as balls. There’s nothing I could think of that would be worse than trying to concentrate on a book while profusely sweating in the sand that is so hot it could literally burn the skin off your feet. The only thing my ass is reading on a beach is the name tag of the nice Spanish gentleman bringing me my strawberry margaritas. “Keep em’ coming, Ricardo!”
Despite my feelings towards reading, Chapters and Indigo stores have really done an excellent job at still being able to lure me in there. With their incredible selection of scented candles, beautiful home goods and stunning frame-worthy day planners all conveniently located right at the front of the store, I often forget that they even sell books! Although I rarely walk out of there with anything to read other than a long, CVS style receipt of crap I didn’t need, I often find myself still coming home with a pair of cozy reading socks and a bookmark with an inspirational quote on it. I do usually end up scanning the bargain tables for cook books or autobiographies of anyone that pique my interest, but usually I just end up in the magazine section drooling over homes I’ll never be able to afford in the latest issue of Architectural Digest.
I know what everyone is thinking right about now (other than what snacks you’re going to eat later to watch Dancing with the Stars), “Natasha, why don’t you listen to audio books?”. It’s a valid question, but the answer is, no thanks. Listening to someone’s voice trying to successfully describe an illuminated scenario would probably put me to sleep just as quickly as taking two swigs of NyQuil. Again, if the topic was engaging (comedic or self-help related), I MIGHT be able to listen to books read aloud, but it would honestly be a struggle for me to fit that into my schedule. The thought of giving up listening to my perfectly curated “car jams” playlist on my drive to work or having to quit staring at my phone until my eyes start to burn out of my skull every night before bed to listen to a book-on-tape, just doesn’t sound appealing enough to me. Unless all of the books were read in Gerard Butler’s voice, I just don’t see the hook.
Luckily, for the sake of this blog (and for you!), I’ve always enjoyed the writing process more than the whole reading thing. My sincere apologies if you also hate reading and are reading this right now, but at least I’m not going to go on and on in 1200 words describing how the wind sounds rustling in the trees in a nearby field of wheat or some shit. Some people love and appreciate the details and the setting of the scene that pages of a fictional story can provide, where as I just want to get to the point already (where is Dave Chappelle’s Wrap-it-up box when you need it?!). While all of my friends growing up were reading endless paperbacks by Judy Blume, I was co-writing a play on my parents dining room table (true story). I realize that it’s pretty ironic that I would enjoy writing so much and loathe reading, but just like writing, I’ll only read something if I feel like I’m going to get something out of it, like tips to make a million dollars overnight or how to lose 20 lbs without exercising or having to eat buckets of kale, why don’t I see that on the bestseller list?