This is my study.
It’s just one of the rooms in our home that is filled with books. There are books everywhere throughout our house. The front living room has shelves on either side of the fireplace and they are filled with our collection of music books. The kidlet has built-in floor to ceiling shelves in her room, almost completely full of her books – from her first board books to the books she is reading now. There are cookbooks on either side of the wood-fired stove in the kitchen and, in our bedroom, our bedside tables are piled high with books; another tower of books about New York is stacked on an antique cupboard; on the blanket box a pile of fashion books and illustrations sits, ready for a quick flick through.
I have a routine when I buy a new book. I open up the cover, and write my name and the month and year I bought (and usually then read) the book. This little tradition has provided me with a kind of living history of my reading habits.
So with this life-long love of reading, it was with complete and utter confusion when, a couple of years ago, I found myself incapable of finishing a book. I would start a new book eagerly, and after a couple of chapters, I would stop. I found myself distracted, unable to concentrate. I would read the same paragraph over and over and lose track of what was happening. I couldn’t get a hold on the characters and was confused at the plot. I’d go to bed at night, anticipating reading a few chapters and then simply couldn’t focus. So I’d put the book down on the ever-increasing pile of half-read books on my bedside table. And not finish it, starting a new book, only for the same thing to happen.
I tried everything – pulling old favourites down from the shelves and trying to reread those. I tried different genres. I tried easy, brainless, fun chick-lit novels that didn’t take any real brain power or concentration to get through the enjoyable fluff. But I still could not make it through a whole book.
Instead, I would grab my iPad and mindlessly flick through social media sites, looking for and at I don’t know what. But whatever it was, it didn’t take attention. It didn’t take concentration. It didn’t take focus.
I was burnt out with reading. Just as I was burnt out with my diabetes. The lack of motivation I was experiencing when it came to managing my diabetes was flowing into other areas. I had never before lost the motivation to read and it was somewhat confusing and startling. I would buy new books but I stopped writing the date in the beginning of them because I knew that I would’t get through it and that the date would prove nothing.
It continued until the end of last year when I started to give a name to what was going on. I stopped making excuses for the burnout and tried to work through it; I looked at what else was going on and set up strategies to manage the situation.
Admittedly, these strategies haven’t worked on the diabetes burnout – it’s persisted (but I’m getting help for that now!) but naming it and owning it certainly did help in other areas.
And I started reading again.
Today, I’m back to the voracious, desperate reading that has been a character trait throughout my life. On sunny days, I can be found on the wooden bench under the front veranda, reading. As the days have gotten cooler, I am frequently curled up in front of the fire in our living room, or at the kitchen table, the room warmed with whatever is baking in the oven. I’ve been dealing with a relentless sinus-y cold the last week or so and have been taking myself off to bed to relax and read – even managing a couple of afternoon reading sessions followed by naps over the weekend.
I’m so glad I found my reading mojo! Being able to escape into a great book is one of life’s simple pleasures. One that I am enjoying once again.