A stray comment from a friend recently has been stuck inside my brain for the last few days, bouncing around as if it contains more weight and truth than initially appears. We were talking about his Thanksgiving break, and just how he filled five days off in a house by himself, and he said something along the lines of, “And I can’t even manage to read books anymore, my concentration is so shot.”
I used to read a lot. A lot. I’d get through books at breakneck speed, with a pile of comics to accompany them always at the ready, either literally or virtually. It was something that, if I didn’t exactly pride myself on, then I was at least proud of — not the number of books read, per se, but that I was constantly taking in new ideas, new information, and feeding my brain. Reading, as the slogan goes, is fundamental, and I was excited and happy to be someone who read a lot.
This year has wrecked that. Specifically, it’s wrecked my reading concentration — or, perhaps, my ability to concentrate for the extended periods necessary to read — to the point where I’ve only managed to complete a handful of books, and even those have felt more like a struggle than I’d like to admit.
It’s not that I don’t want to read. It’s that my brain likes to distract me when I do — reminding me of other things I should or could be doing, other things I should thinking or asking or or or — and so, reading becomes difficult. This is specifically related to the concept of reading for pleasure, I should add; I have likely read more for work, or read more news and analysis in the name of “feeling informed,” than usual across the last 12 months. My word count, such as it is, is likely the same, but it’s purpose is entirely different.
I’m sad about that; I miss reading for fun. I miss feeding those new ideas into my head, even if they were trashy, shitty ideas. (Especially then.) It’s oddly comforting to know that I’m seemingly not alone in having this problem, but still: I hope that I can learn to read more books again next year.