My Reading Anxieties, Numbered

Rebecca Hussey

Staff Writer

Rebecca holds a PhD in English and is a professor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. She teaches courses in composition, literature, and the arts. When she’s not reading or grading papers, she’s hanging out with her husband and son and/or riding her bike and/or buying books. She can't get enough of reading and writing about books, so she writes the bookish newsletter "Reading Indie," focusing on small press books and translations. Newsletter: Reading Indie Twitter: @ofbooksandbikes

1. I am eight books behind on my Goodreads challenge. I thought I’d push myself and aim for 100 books this year, but I may have overshot. I consider myself a slow reader.

2. I read slowly, but I also have a hard time remembering what I read. I am capable of forgetting plot details like you wouldn’t believe.

3. Perhaps my amazing ability to forget what I’ve read means I actually read too fast. Maybe I should read even more slowly and then I’d get more out of the books I do read.

4. But then maybe I wouldn’t.

5. I’m capable of reading a good number of books a year — anywhere from 50-100 every year in the last decade or so — but I have a hard time sitting still to read for long.

6. I read as many books as I do while being a slow reader and having a hard time sitting still because I don’t do much else in my life. This probably means I read too much.

7. I DO do other things in my life — I have a job, I have a kid, I have friends, I have a partner, I hike and ride my bike — but I still feel like I should have more hobbies or something. Hobbies besides reading.

8. I don’t fall in love with particular books as often as I used to.

9. I don’t like novels as much as I used to. It seems like people say this a lot as they get older. They tend to turn to nonfiction more and more as they age. I am getting old.

10. I like doing bookish things — buying books, cataloguing books, reading bookish twitter, organizing my books. Perhaps I like doing these things more than I actually like reading books?

11. I have over 500 books in my house that I haven’t read. Perhaps I will never read them?

12. I feel bad for picking up library books or egalleys before I pick up books I’ve bought that have been sitting on my shelves for a long time. Why do I collect all these books I may never read?

13. What will my son do with all my books once I’m gone and he inherits them? I’m not worried about the fate of the books themselves, but about the burden on my son.

14. Why, when someone asks me what good books I’ve read lately, does my mind go completely blank?

15. I haven’t read the Harry Potter books beyond the first one. I haven’t read The Hunger Games. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Gray or Twilight. I’m afraid I don’t belong here at Book Riot because of these things.

16. I don’t even know a bunch of the things I probably should have read, just to keep up.

17. I’m a specialist in eighteenth-century British literature, but I haven’t read anything from that period in a few years.

18. I read too many contemporary books.

19. I’m also annoyed at people who say you should focus on the classics. I could regret this at some point, however.

20. Will I regret all the hours I spent reading when I’m on my deathbed?

21. Will I regret all the hours I didn’t spend reading when I’m on my deathbed?

22. I want to listen to more audiobooks, but I frequently listen to podcasts instead. But I’m missing an opportunity to read more books because of this.

23. Almost all the podcasts I listen to are bookish ones, which is fine, but there are so many great non-bookish podcasts out there, and I’m missing out.

24. I have almost 600 books on my Goodreads to-read list, most of which I’ll never get to.

25. I don’t want to get rid of the list or take any books off it, though, because what if I do decide to read those books someday.

26. I don’t read enough: books in translation, classics, history, biography, romance, science fiction, fantasy, young adult, thrillers, and westerns. Also self-help books and science.

27. I did an amazing job posting regularly on my blog for a few years, but now I hardly ever do.

28. I didn’t do the cool things on my blog I hoped to, mainly to write about books in a personal but also critical fashion that digs deeply into books but with an entertaining and highly personal voice.

29. I’m actually not capable of writing like this.

30. I made a lot of great blog friends who don’t get much attention from me these days. I miss them, but I also continue to not post on my blog and not comment on theirs.

31. My son likes books, but what if he decides in the future he doesn’t anymore? What if I am so into reading that he purposely goes in the opposite direction and refuses to have anything to do with books?

32. Not that not reading is a bad thing (except, of course, I think it is, or I can’t help but think it is, given all the reading I’ve done in my life). I want my son to be a reader. But I also worry about the effects of worrying about this.

33. In spite of trying not to be a book snob, trying hard, I retain some traces of book snobbishness. I’m working on this.

34. For someone who loves reading, really truly loves reading, I have a lot of anxieties about it. I should probably figure out how to stop worrying so much.

35. But I worry that it’s my nature to be a worrier, so there you go.