The other day, I came home from a long day with friends: we had started out the day early by driving to a hiking location, and hiked for a good 5 hours. Afterward, we drove to a waterfall and hung out there for another few hours, cooling down from the tiring hike. We ended the day with a satisfying pizza dinner together and then a fun movie and girls’ night sleepover. When I went home the following day, I had a mini panic session: I didn’t read that entire day. What? I missed out on an ENTIRE day without reading. I needed to finish that book and write up a review!! But honestly, I felt good about hanging out with my friends. So why did I still feel so guilty?
The truth is, since it’s my summer before college, I want to spend it as wisely as possible. The other day on Twitter, I asked, “I’m getting so bored of summer already. What should I do for the next 3 months?” A lot of you replied, “READ ALL THE BOOKS”, in which I initially agreed. It’s a natural instinct and idea to read all the books, obviously, because I won’t have time in college. It was my original goal right when I graduated. If you don’t know already, I spent most of June reading, reading, reading. I ended up finishing 33 books – a hell a lot for me in a month. But it got me thinking: reading is a way for us to escape from the real world, to enter someone’s head and think about their problems for awhile instead of our own. We mentally leave reality for a little while and enjoy what we can.
But reading also means not living yourself. By being in someone else’s world, you leave yours. Think about it. By reading, your really just sitting there and moving your eyeballs. Since I had been reading the entire time in June, I didn’t really leave the house at all. In fact, I was kind of like a hermit for the entire month of June. Even when I was happily listening to audiobooks all the time, I was constantly plugged in and I felt like I rarely used my voice. While I was happy with the amount of books I read, I had a nagging feeling in the back of my head; I felt entirely removed from my world.
I think as readers and people who have absurdly large TBRs, we have to consider how we want to spend our time in this world. Yes, I love reading. Yes, I love the feeling of being in a made-up fantasy world or reading a talented author’s words. But what about in my world? What do I want to get done? Surely, I can’t ignore my world – I have a life to live. At the start of the school year, I want people to ask me, “What did you do this summer?” I don’t want my answer to be, “I read 100 books.” It’s an impressive number, but when it all comes down to it, thinking about having 4 months of summer and not taking advantage of it makes me feel guilty. I can read a book on any given day, a rainy day, but I can’t go hiking any day or be with my friends & family in a few short months. At the start of the school year, I want to be able to rattle off the experiences that I personally lived through by myself or with family and friends. Living inside of a book from the start of summer to the end will do me no good if I can’t take the lessons I’ve learned from the books I’ve read and apply them to my own life.
That’s not to say that I’m abandoning books forever. I just want to carefully evaluate how I’m spending my time. Time is precious, so spend it wisely. You can choose to stay huddled in bed reading and making your internet presence huge by writing up blog posts scheduled for the next two months, or you can choose to go out and live in the real world. Just a little food for thought.