We’re all pretty aware that 2016 has been a total shitshow, I think. A shitstorm. A shit-ocalypse. Even though events specific to my personal life have been fairly decent this year, my general mood has been one of suck due to the dark cloud of stress and loss that’s been hanging over all our heads. When I feel stressed and shitty, I either want to read all the time or I don’t want to read at all.
This year, it has been the latter. I gave up two days ago and returned a big ol’ stack of books to the library that I hadn’t even begun to make a dent in. (I’ve been reading the same book about food science since July. What even is happening right now.) (Also, my apologies to the library for keeping these books for like five months and not actually reading them. I meant to read them. I swear I did.)
I haven’t purchased a book since April that wasn’t a textbook. Just kidding, I bought several of the Book Riot deals of the day this year, even though I haven’t read most of them. Any of them? Ugh.
I’ve been a reader for 30 years, so I always have a nagging sense of something being wrong when I’m not reading. Like waking up on the wrong side of the bed in the wrong bed in the wrong house. I’ve written not one but two articles about how to beat a reading slump; one would think I would be slump-proof, but no. If anything, I know so much about reading slumps because I’m plagued by them.
There has been one little glimmer of reading joy that has kept me from totally going into reading deprivation. Even though I’ve been feeling like I can’t even spare the creative energy to put words in my eyeballs, audiobooks–which I just started seeking out this year–have proven to be a way of getting around that.
I’d only ever listened to an audiobook once before because Wil Wheaton read it and I like Wil Wheaton. After that, I tried a few audiobooks but I couldn’t get into them, so I went back to eye-reading until my eyes and brain told me to GTFO with looking at words.
I decided to try again and take an audiobook with me on a bus trip. I stayed up late into the night listening to it. (The book was Crazy Rich Asians and SO GOOD on audiobook, y’all.) I used to prefer the intimacy that paper-reading gave me, because you can’t read a paper book and multi-task very easily; but due to my mood, or maybe because my brain is changing with age, I couldn’t sit still long enough to read a book anymore and listening to books felt really good for the first time in my life. I read another audiobook, and another; I read while crafting and driving and doing dishes, or sometimes in bed, in the dark, just me and the book like old times.
Here’s where the library comes in. I understand why audiobooks are expensive, for real: the additional costs of voice talent and recording time plus a smaller market means you pay more. That being said, I can’t afford $30 books. Newp. My local library system lets me check out audiobooks through OverDrive, though. Even though OverDrive can be a little unwieldy for random browsing, it’s been a blessing for me in my time of needing not to read words with my eyes.
(But seriously, OverDrive, your categories are a hot mess and a half. Love you tho.)
The library has also become my workspace this year, which puts me in a bookish mood whenever I go to write or study; I can’t go through the displays to my favorite work spot without wanting to cozy up with half the books I see. Maybe more than half. Most of them, really; the librarians who put up displays know exactly what they’re doing.
So, I just want to say a big thank you to my library. You’ve been my oasis this year and my provider of audio reading content when I couldn’t focus on anything else. You’ve given me a quiet, cheap place to study, and you’ve stoked my reading fires again with your alluring collections of books. For that, I owe you the world, but you’ll probably have to settle for me paying my library fines. (Just kidding, I already paid them.) (Mostly.)