I love Goodreads, I love seeing how many books I’ve read, I love being able to look back at what I have read in the past couple of years. I also love Instagram, and following all kinds of bookish accounts and seeing what people are reading, how they’re finding it and getting recommendations from said accounts. I love book YouTube channels too, they’re fun because I don’t get to talk about or listen to people talk about books as often as I’d like and BookTube is a really good substitute for that.
But here’s the thing: I think social media is ruining my book reading practice.
To start with, social media is fast-paced and sucks years out of your life. How many times have I been on Twitter to realize that I’ve been scrolling for two hours straight for absolutely no reason? Also, when I’m on social media, it feels like time weirdly stretches and the present barely feels real anymore. What I’m trying to say is, it feels like I read a lot less than other people and that’s honestly screwing up the way I read books.
English is my second language and I have generalized anxiety disorder, which means that I am convinced (and am probably right) that I take way longer to process words on a page. I’ve recently become super aware of this because I have people on my Goodreads who read upwards of 100 books a year. I couldn’t read that many books if I tried: I simply don’t have the reading speed, time or cognitive capacity. And I feel‚with the caveat that I know the concept of the following word is ableist—stupid because of it.
Intellectually, I know everyone has their own pace, I know that people do things in their own unique ways. I wish I could stop comparing myself to the people in my timelines who read five books a week. While I love being able to know about what people are reading and what upcoming books I might be interested in reading, social media makes me feel like I am constantly in a race to read the most books, absorb the highest amount of stories, process them and interpret them. It feels like that’s the only way I’ll properly catch up—and I want to be honest: it’s ruining my relationship with books.
I’m writing this post because I’ve been wondering if other people feel the same way. And I also think it’s important to talk about this: the very notion that reading has to be done so efficiently is pretty ableist. The fact that I am berating myself, an English as a second language speaker and mentally ill person, for not being able to keep up is a problem. I thought the toxicity of social media wouldn’t reach books, but I think it finally has. I don’t know what the solution is, but I am taking the following steps to calm down on my reading anxiety:
- I want to be more grounded on classics, specifically feminist classics. So instead of always looking to the future and keeping an eye on books that are about to be released, I want to look back and take my time reading feminist classics.
- I want to dedicate myself more to interpreting words and paragraphs rather than just slurping the words into my mind because I need to get to my next book. I have started reading with a pencil so I can underline and make notes in the margins.
- I will try to scroll Goodreads and book Twitter less. I will try to not be anxious about all the books I want to read ASAP. I want to try to enjoy the present of reading instead of trying to read as fast as possible.
I am super curious: does anyone else feel this way? It has really gotten in the way of me even writing for Book Riot because I feel like I always need to have the most digested take as fast as possible. Please comment below or @ me on Twitter (@nicolefroio).