Confessing My Literary Sins
I'll come right out with it: I'm a sinner.
That's right, I'm a literary sinner. I'll be the first to admit that, while pursuing a professional career as a writer, I've neglected my lifelong passion on the other end of the literary exchange. Throughout my time as a college English Major — with a Literary Criticism emphasis, mind you — and during the following four years when I exhausted most of my creative energies writing such compellingly on-brand titles as "I Can't Tell If I Need 911 or a Priest After Seeing Richard Madden at Kit Harington's Wedding," I fell out of love with reading.
After long days spent writing, brainstorming, and the like, oftentimes the last thing I wanted to do was come home and crack open a fresh book. While I'll never regret the time I've spent watching Peaky Blinders or Game of Thrones, it's easy to look back and feel sad about how much time I wasted melting into the couch because I was so emotionally spent from long days at work. Evenings once spent curled up with a book turned into late nights on the couch with the glowing lights of a TV screen reflecting off my face — and, on most occasions, wine glass.
Over the past year or so, though, I've made a concerted effort to embrace the pleasure-reader I used to be. There are "life things" that have motivated me, but the biggest changes that have helped me reinvigorate my passion for the page are:
- I organized my bookshelf in a way that makes me happy when I look at it, which allowed me to simultaneously re-evaluate which books I should keep and which are chaff that I could donate.
- Instead of waking up on weekends and immediately diving into chores or turning on the TV, I grab a book and take a nice walk to my favorite pub. I'll sit there for several hours, eating a pub brunch and drinking a Bloody Mary or salty dog by myself. Having dedicated time to dive into a book without distraction has been key to rediscovering my love of reading. (Sometimes I even wake up to catch an earlier bus on the weekdays, giving me an hour to sit in a coffee shop near my office and read before the day really begins.)
- I've cast away all preconceived notions about what I should be reading, and given myself the freedom to read what I actually enjoy. Not feeling constricted by "literary merit" has allowed me to genuinely have fun while reading again.
Based on the recommendation of an Instagram follower, I've recently become obsessed with the podcast What Should I Read Next?, which I highly recommend for anybody seeking literary motivation or unique recommendations for their next read. One of the first episode titles that grabbed my attention was "Confess Your Literary Sins."
Listening to frank discussion about the less-than-kosher habits of other readers inspired me, a born-again bibliophile, to confess some literary sins of my own.
Forgive me reader, for I have sinned. It's been two weeks since my last trip to the bookstore.
Anyway, here goes nothing:
- I put down books. If I'm not feeling it, I feel no shame in abandoning a book! This isn't typically something I feel guilty about, but it's definitely controversial amongst the reading community. (Life's too short for crappy books, y'all!)
- I dog-ear pages. I'd love to be that person who always has a cute bookmark on hand, but the reality is that all of my books have crinkled edges.
- I organize my books by color, not author name. When it comes to my bookshelf, beauty defeats brains every time!
- I listen to audiobooks; I'm no purist! Audiobooks are amazing for when I'm doing chores, driving, riding the bus, or any situation wherein I don't trust myself to pay attention to words on a page.
- I read several books at a time. On any given day, I'm typically halfway through at least two books. I might be listening to a true crime audiobook for half an hour a day, reading a lighthearted rom-com for another hour, and then churning through a chapter of a meatier memoir whenever I have the time.
- I own a Kindle. I couldn't tell you where it is or when I last used it, but I own one. I also have the Kindle iOS app on my phone!
- I don't take full advantage of the library, even though I know there are tons of helpful resources there and plenty of books that I'd enjoy reading. Even when I was in college, I've slacked on my library skills.
- I never leave detailed GoodReads reviews. I give them a star rating and that's it! (You can follow my disappointment of a profile here.)
- I walk with my nose in a book. It's dangerous, and it's the reason why my parents used to ground me from reading when I would nearly walk into oncoming traffic. Considering some of the neighborhoods in San Francisco that I've read and walked in, I'm honestly shocked that I've never stepped in poop — or worse, stabbed my toe on a discarded needle.
- I Instagram books before I'm done with them. Sorry, followers! Instagrams don't equal endorsements.
What are your literary sins? Feel free to share in the comments below, and please send me any book (and audiobook!) recommendations.