Reading FOMO and Having Non-Bookish Hobbies

Fight Club watching tv

(Me discovering basically any show.)

Okay, I mean, I obviously do read. I read more than the national average (not that it’s a contest). I realized within the past year or two, though, that hanging out with mostly readers has led me to feel major reading inadequacy.

“Have you read [recent book that came out]?! IT’S SO GOOD.” Probably not yet? I’ll get to it one of these months.

“How many books have you read this year? I’M ABOUT TO CRACK 100 BY JUNE!” I might crack 50 by December, I’ll keep you posted!

I do have years where I read hundreds of books, but as I get older, I find my number of read books every year dwindling (and a greater portion of nonfiction taking over that number every year). At first, I felt incredibly guilty for continuing to call myself a reader when I clearly had a lot of other priorities interfering with it. My friends are real readers, I thought, and I am becoming more and more a pretender, averting my eyes when reading challenges and book counts and TBR piles come up.

I also stopped collecting very many books, which, let me tell you–18-year-old me would not be happy about this development. When I worked in a bookstore, a solid third of every paycheck would go toward buying a new stack of books. I had a bookshelf as tall as I was that was stacked to the brim with books and I still kept acquiring them. Like Rioter Jenn, I spent some time downsizing my book collection and plan to do more; I started using the library more and reading ebooks instead of paper books. I had friends that were legit horrified when I did this. Willingly giving up books?! HOW COULD I DO THAT. HOW. And I felt a bit of shame and a lot of pretender syndrome.

You know what, though? I’m done with that. And I’m done with the book FOMO that I’ve been experiencing because, let’s be real, I’m never going to read every book (or hug every cat).

hug every cat

I love that there are people out there who can’t stop reading. I love that there are people whose total life passion is books. I’m passionate about books, but I’m also passionate about things like binge-watching TV (this TV Renaissance we’re in, amirite?!) and making things with my hands and Pinterest and writing and cooking and trying to figure out how to work good adult habits into my life (which has been a huge time-sucking focus of mine recently); I just don’t seem to have the energy to balance all of these things as well as some other people do. I’m going to start cutting myself some slack for that instead of stressing about it.

I am a reader and I have been all my life. (Well, since I was 3 or so.) I don’t read as fast or as much or as broadly, maybe, and I don’t have the envy-inspiring book collections that some readers do. What I do works for me, though. Now that I’m no longer hung up on quantity reading time, I can focus a lot more on quality reading time: I have goals to further diversify my reading, find as many small press gems as possible, and learn more about my health through great nonfiction. I’m way less stressed about these goals than about matching pace with others’ reading habits and also a lot more excited about them.

What about you guys? Have you experienced feelings of reading inadequacy? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

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