Books For When You Don’t Really Feel Like Reading

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Yash Kesanakurthy

Staff Writer

Somewhere between starting her schooling in Saudi Arabia and finishing high school in Singapore, Yash Kesanakurthy realized that she disliked school. It was the fateful move to Vancouver, Canada for a BA in Economics (which, surprise, didn't pan out) that led her to the MA program in Children's Literature at UBC. She had fun immersing herself into the academia of children's literature but nothing beat the joy of writing for The Book Wars, being able to set aside classics and pay attention to the culture of contemporary YA. And now, everything is PB/MG/YA and nothing hurts. Well, some things hurt but nothing her bookshelf can't fix. Currently, she is working on her own YA fantasy novel and an all-ages picturebook. Her life goals include: getting a pet dog, getting published, and presenting you dear readers and Rioters with posts that engage and entertain. (Maybe not in that order?) Blog: The Book Wars Twitter: @SeeYashTweet

Basically, “activity books for adults” is what I mean.

Things are finally settling down—albeit temporarily—for me, but that just means I have an intimidating TBR pile (more so than usual) to catch up on.

So, naturally, I’m avoiding it like the plague.

My demands from books have changed this month. I want to hold one in my hands, but I want it to engage my brain in a different way, find a different way to tell a story. I don’t know if that’s a common feeling from anyone else who feels generally burnt out, but I am selfish enough to not want to be alone in this weird state of yes-I’m-a-reader-but-not-right-now.

To that end, I’ve made my list of books for you or the reader in your life who is overwhelmed by the pages that need to be perused and would like to feel a sense of accomplishment, please?

The first book in my list is Star Wars Kirigami by Marc Hagan-Guirey. Like origami, but it involves some cutting in addition to folding. There are projects for every level, from beginner to advanced, and even if you don’t like Star Wars, there is a real sense of accomplishment when you finish building whatever it is you’re supposed to build. Or, even if you don’t manage to build it. Look, nothing is going to annoy you as much as that pile of unread of books that people are counting on you to read, yes?

If, however, your answer is no, you could try Literary Listography: My Reading Life in Lists by Lisa Nola. Revel in the books you have read, the books you want to read, the ones you may never read but excite you anyway, the ones you wish you’d skipped, and your favourite places to curl up with a book. I think the goal of the book is to look back on a life lived from cover to end pages, so I wouldn’t worry about it making you feel guilty about not having read what you were “supposed” to. I think every list is meant to carry you away from the feeling of “supposed.”

My next pick can be replaced by any cookbook—cooking is an activity, okay!—but I picked Preeti Mistry and Sarah Henry’s Juhu Beach Club Cookbook: Indian Spice, Oakland Soul simply because of all the South Asian cookbooks I’ve picked up, this one has recipes I felt nostalgic for even as a part of my brain screamed, “YOU’VE NEVER MADE THAT! TRY IT!” Also, I love that the book is organized by feelings. Finally, a cookbook that gets me. Plus, surprise, those colourful food pictures tricked you into reading because how can you live another minute without knowing a) what that dish is and b) how to make it?

But hey, if cooking’s not an activity you would choose, maybe writing is. Maybe the reason you aren’t reading is because you spent all November trying to finish a novel and you couldn’t, but you don’t know how to get unstuck? (*coughs* This isn’t about me, I swear.) Anyway, maybe it’s time to try a workbook. Okay, this may involve some reading, but if your pick is anything like mine—Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward—it’ll give you plenty of chances to flex your writing muscles with periodic exercises. Whatever you’re getting stuck with, maybe writing snippets of something else will help? At the very least, it can’t do any harm.

Of course, maybe you’re not sick of reading, but just sick of being taken for a ride you didn’t agree to? Maybe you want to be able to control the narrative sometimes? Maybe you need Meanwhile by Jason Shiga. I haven’t actually been able to get my hands on this wonder, but rioter Rachel Weber has talked about it in her post. 3,856 possible combinations means you can ignore that TBR pile for at least another month, right?