Here’s how I rediscovered my passion for reading and how it can carve out time from the online world.
Once a bookworm, my love for reading waned when it came to university and part-time working. Over the years I have bought books that I intend to read, promised myself that I would, but they ultimately sit on my bookshelf looking pretty, but unread.
I even bought a bookshelf from an Anglican priest in Manchester, who gave me a lift home. During that conversation, I found out that he once lived in the same small, forgotten Welsh town that I grew up in, but that is a story for another time.
Reading Before Lockdown
Fast forward to 2020. If I were to anticipate a time where I would be home, every day with little physical connection to the outside world, I would have liked to think that I would have spent the time “bettering” myself. In my imagined scenario, I would spend my time learning to paint, learning to sew, discovering new art and podcasts and fundamentally, reading.
I have said countless times previously that I would read if only I had the time. The time was given to me last year, and I didn’t take it. I’m not sure why, since I was furloughed and my loved ones, despite some of them contracting Covid-19, were alive and safe. I tried my best to read, truly, and I did manage to read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, but that is all that I managed.
There are tweets ad nauseam about how it is okay that you didn’t manage to read during lockdown and the stress that the global pandemic has put on everyone, as a collective and individually, means that we don’t need to feel or be productive and existing in this time is more than enough. But for me, it feels like a wasted opportunity.
New Year’s Resolutions
It is now halfway through the first month of 2021, January. Like most people, I have set myself some New Year’s resolutions. They aren’t hard rules with a rigid structure, just a philosophy of “read more and buy less” to follow.
Unfortunately, my shopping habits haven’t changed much, although I am working on it, but my reading has completely. Three weeks into the year and I have completed ten books so far. Okay, three of them, the first three in the Harry Potter series, are audiobooks, but I’m still counting them.
I was furloughed from my pub job the first week of November, and since then, I have been completing my master’s and newspaper work experience from home, alone. I won’t deny that there are some benefits to doing my work from my spare bedroom/office. I don’t have to mess about getting on trains and paying for a rubbish vegan sandwich meal deal from Boots or rush from my lecture to pull pints, but being in front of a screen and being online so much, isn’t healthy for me.
In a bid to remedy this and challenge myself to do something I haven’t done in a long time, I decided to read. For fun. Not for university, or to learn something, but to read for entertainment and enjoyment.
From a Facebook book swap group, I purchased the entire Marked series by PC and Kristin Cast. Admittedly, this series is not even half as good as I remember from when I was a young teen. The series is problematic and dated, to say the least, but frankly, I enjoyed reading something trashy and fun and doesn’t require academic and analytical skills.
Reading as an Offline Space
My favourite part of my rediscovery of reading is being offline, disconnected from the world. As a budding journalist, being online is a must. Either from scrolling the news, to finding news, or connecting with other young Journalists on Twitter, the internet can almost swallow you. This is why taking the time to read is so important.
Whether it is for fifteen minutes or three hours, unplugging from the online world is always beneficial. It is a bit of cliche, but reading is de-stressing, it is calming and balancing. Reading transports me from pitching and article rejection pressures, it rids the stress of finding stories to be published in the paper and the anxiety surrounding university work.
Now more than ever, when work, friendships and relationships are virtual, carving an offline space, a world that contains yourself and the characters you are reading is one of the best acts of self-care.
Please note, this article was first published on January 28, 2021 at Medium.com