Reading in Reality

Reading in RealityThe 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.

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7 thoughts on “Reading in Reality”

  1. I love this post, Jen. It’s such a good point, and definitely what I needed to be reminded of right now. I have a tendency to freak out when I haven’t been reading enough (which I think we all do) but I think we need to spend more time focusing on ourselves and on spending time with the people in our lives.

    HUGS!

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  2. Yes, Jen! I agree with this post so much, and you articulated your thoughts so well. I (obviously) love reading – I even want to work in the publishing industry – so it’s definitely important to me to put aside time for books. But I can’t spend *too* much time on reading, or I start to lose the enjoyment of it. On days when I’m traveling or spending the whole day with friends, there are other – equally enjoyable, fulfilling, and important – things to be doing, so I don’t feel bad at all about taking a day off every once in a while.

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  3. That’s such a good point! Now to think of it, we should allow ourselves to detach from books once in a while to see what is out there. Like, not just books, but everything literary wise and try something new and far away from our comfort zone. I guess that’s going to be hard for some people because most of the time they’re thinking “oh my gosh which book am I going to read next? What should my next blog post be about?” you know? But we should try to separate ourselves from books once in a while because books aren’t the only thing out there.

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  4. This is a really fantastic post and I can definitely relate. I had to do a lot of soul searching recently regarding how I spend my time and realized that yes I love books and blogging and the internet and all of those things, but I always used those to fill up time/holes in my life when I didn’t have a lot going on (aka when I move(d) somewhere new). I have a pretty amazing life right now and I would much rather spend time living than holed up at home reading. I still love books, obviously, but I don’t feel guilty for taking a long time to read something or not reading anything on a particular day any more. There’s certainly nothing wrong with someone spending all of their time reading if that’s what makes them happy, but I’m a lot like you in that right now, I want to spend more of my time out in the world.

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  5. I love this post so much, Jen. I read it a few hours ago and it’s been in the back of my mind for a while now.

    It’s so true that we need to get out there and live. I normally have the struggle of reading vs. real life whenever I’m on vacation: I want to enjoy myself as much as humanly possible, but I can also get a little freaked out if I haven’t read or blogged for weeks, too. It’s definitely a struggle, especially because reading is such a big and important part of my life. I totally agree though- we have to live out the time we have, while we can. That’s absolutely essential.

    At the same time though, I don’t think I really ever regret reading books, especially times like these when it’s slow for me. I don’t have much interaction with my friends going on right now, just because most of them are out of town, and when my family is chilling, I love love love escaping to another world for a while. The perspective reading provides me- even if it’s only for a little bit during some downtime- is so important to me. It helps me see my world in a different lens, and helps me become a better person, and also teaches me to empathize.

    So I think for me, it’s necessary to create a balance, although I do always want to put life first. Our lives are a sum of our experiences, after all, but I think reading provides me depth in life that I find myself craving, especially when I’m alone and without a alot to do.

    Lovely, lovely post, Jen. This really resonated with me. I’m going to text some friends & meet up with them, because you’re totally right- life before books. Always. <33

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  6. Love this post! And i think the message actually works for a lot of different things. like how long do we want to spend blogging? how long do we want to spend on twitter? same deal. while we’re doing these things, we’re living online and that isn’t really “living.”

    I went out for the full day last week and it was awesome! i love going out with my friends and having a good time because i do crave the human interaction every while. we need to find a balance between the two, develop social skills but also read all the books!

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