Not too long ago, I read a forum post from a gal who explained that she felt guilty for blocking out time in her schedule to sit down and write. Even though her family was super supportive and always left her alone when it was "writing time," she had this nagging feeling that she should have been doing something more productive, like doing the dishes or folding the laundry or cooking dinner - any of those million-and-one things that "responsible moms are supposed to do."
At first, I nodded and thought, I can totally understand that. I feel the same way about reading - like why am I sitting here flipping pages when I should be down the hall sweeping or actually writing my own book?
But when I started thinking about it, I realized that since starting my podcast and reviewing books, I actually don't feel guilty about reading anymore. And once I realized that, of course I had to explore the all-important WHY. Here's the sum of what I found out:
1. Reading is a solitary activity.
While reading aloud or participating in a book club can make reading into a group thing, or at least a thing you do with other people, in most cases when I sit down with a book I'm only doing it for one person. Myself. I am the only person benefiting from this activity, and the benefit is not something that will carry over into tomorrow, because tomorrow I'll just want to read more.
But when I read for a purpose of sharing it with other people, the reading itself becomes something that benefits other people, as well as myself. SHOCK!
2. Reading takes time.
Unlike a plethora of other things that allow me to accomplish multiple tasks at once (for example, folding the laundry allows me to both put away my clean clothes and clean my room at the same time) when I sit down to read I can only be doing one thing: reading. In combination with the above point, I felt that reading was a literal waste of time, preventing me from doing productive things.
But when I started reviewing books, it became part of my blogging routine, and blogging was an acceptable thing to spend time on. If I budgeted time for reading, it was clearly tied to my blog, which was an acceptable expenditure of my time.
3. Reading requires dedicated blocks of time.
At some point, I apparently forgot my time as a child, wherein I carried my favorite activities (like my Gameboy or a book) with me when my parents were shopping, and read or played games while I waited for them.
Having recently remembered that this was a thing I used to do, I have begun carrying a Kindle around with me and reading when I have a few minutes between arriving at work and clocking in or when my grandmother is in the store and I'm not needed for moving heavy things. (I'll even read when I'm walking, if it's not raining and there's nothing for me to run into.)
These observations led me to, I hope, a healthier relationship with books. This also means that I'm reading WAY more than I have since leaving college, and loving every second of it.
What about you and your reading habits? Did you ever feel guilty about reading (or writing, for that matter)?
Also, don't forget to check for the newest episode of our podcast: Catawampus Readings!