Book Nerding is Hard Sometimes (An Homage to Readers Who Don't Have Time to Read)
Sometimes life just gets in the way and says, "Hey, that thing you love doing? I'm going to make it really hard for you to do it." For book nerds, especially when you're in the middle of a really good book, this can be devastating.
This feeling of not being able to read when you want to is unnatural because book lovers are lucky in many ways...
- Books are portable, so there's not an environment where reading is barred by location (though readers may be barred from reading by the activity warranted in that location). Reading in the car is only prevented if you're performing the activity of driver. Kayakers, however, can't say the same. There's only room for a kayak when it's tied to the top of the car, where I imagine one should not be making attempts to kayak.
- Readers don't require any special tools to do their craft. You might think you need a special pen or bookmark, but you can read just fine without them. The same is not true for painters who require countless tools to bring their art to life.
- Reading is not associated with an activity that is generally looked down upon and thus not welcome in the public sphere, especially with the advent of e-readers where no one knows what you're reading. I imagine sex therapists and drug addiction counselors don't have the same privileges. They've probably come to expect awkward smiles at cocktail parties when discussing their profession, but tell someone you're a reader and they'll assume you're smart and put together (even if you're not).
- Spaces dedicated to readers and reading are ubiquitous. Even the poorest counties in the US probably have at least one piddly county library. Elsewhere, it's not uncommon to find libraries in every neighborhood, or at least a nearby coffee shop where readers are found in abundance. Contrastingly, there are relatively few other hobbies where dedicated spaces can be found with such ubiquity (much less funded with tax dollars, however few dollars that may be). If you love to dance and there's not a studio in your town, you just have to get acquainted with the living room floor.
You'd think that with all the privileges afforded readers that being a book nerd would be easy. If we can read practically anywhere, reading is highly regarded, and there are even spaces dedicated to worshipping at the altar of literature, what stops readers from reading?
Time is either the benefactor or the thief of reading. It's a fickle friend who, despite being the great equalizer and giving everyone the same 24 hours, seems to always be there when you don't need him and curiously elusive when you do.
I know nearly everyone has this feeling at some point or another: I want to read, I just don't have the time. I hear you. Even book nerds feel that way too sometimes---err, all the time.
Like right now, it's that hectic part of the semester where my professors are putting fast approaching deadlines on those tedious projects that haven't reared their heads from the syllabi in months. Couple that with the fact that finals week is approaching in one of my classes and I work full time, and that's a recipe for Been Reading the Same Book for Three Weeks And Still Not Done.
Being unable to do something you truly love is a prime ingredient in the cocktail of depression. I remember those days in undergrad when I would bring a stack of books for pleasure reading as I moved into my dorm and every day between full-time school, part-time work, and mountains of homework, I would look at the unread books and feel a book-shaped knot in my stomach. And try as I might, I remember it taking me close to two months to read The House on Mango Street one semester because I could only get through about four pages before I fell asleep from exhaustion, homework still unfinished on the desk.
These days I purposefully work in time to read before bed or set an early alarm so I can get in 20 minutes before work. But sometimes, not even that works out. I'm just too tired. Life is just too much. Right now I'm at that point in the semester when I'm asking myself, "Do I really want to do this? Do I really want to be a librarian? If I wasn't doing this I could be reading right now..." Then logic will win out and I remember that this is temporary---this stress, too, shall pass.
Nonetheless, there's always that subtle pang of guilt that comes from saying you're a reader and not having time to read. You feel like a fraud. I do, too. But just remember that whatever is keeping you from reading is only temporary. As long as you don't forget about reading---why you love it, why it's important to you, why it's worthy of your time when you have more time---you'll always return to reading, likely with more fervor than you left it with. You're a reader. Never forget that, even though book nerding is hard sometimes.