Our Reading Lives

The Perils of a Reading Streak

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Abby Hargreaves

Staff Writer

Abby Hargreaves is a New Hampshire native living and working as a Children’s Librarian in Washington, D.C. She fulfills the gamut of the librarian stereotype with a love of cats, coffee, and crocheting (and likes a good run of alliteration). Her MLIS degree enjoys the company of a BA in English from Hollins University, making Abby an advocate of women's universities. Her favorite color is yellow.

Fall tends to be my time of reading. I read all year round, of course, but there’s something about the extra-cozy-making weather, oversized sweaters, and steaming cups of tea that just make me want to read even more. So, you can imagine my disappointment when this past fall, I hit a pretty severe reading slump. I’m not even totally sure what caused it. Miraculously, I’d kept up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge through the summer despite also taking on War and Peace. I had great plans for what I’d read next (basically, the stuff of my teenage years because, dammit, I’d earned it). And then September rolled around and nothing was interesting me.

I fell 10 book short of my goal of 110 for that year’s challenge as a result. Whether I was fired up by this perceived loss or some other kind of magic happened, I upped my game drastically after the first of the year. My renewed interest in reading might also have had to do with trying more graphic novels (not my usual format) and revisiting other hobbies, which in turn led me to want to read more about those hobbies. In January, I read 14 books. In February, nine more. The jury is still out on March, but I could conceivably beat my January record. I found myself — and continue to find myself — the midst of what I’m calling a reading streak.

This isn’t without problems of its own. I’ve got holds coming at me left and right from six different library systems in some sort of avalanche of paper and pixels. Everything I look at looks like a good read. I can hardly make a decision of what to read next, so I stand blindfolded at my shelf and randomly point to make a selection.


I haven’t seen my cat in days because my eyes are glued either to a page or my ereader. My parents are wondering why I haven’t called and probably drumming up a search party. I’m neglecting my social life (just kidding, I didn’t have one to begin with). If it weren’t for my fiancé helpfully collecting it, I’m pretty sure the mail would explode out of my box until our carrier gave up. I’m paying for a Netflix subscription I haven’t touched in weeks. I’m having dreams that take place in my novel’s settings. And my fingers are covered in paper cuts from rifling through the pages like I’m some kind of literate Road Runner (meep, meep!).


Okay, so maybe I’m making a mountain of a molehill and being a bit facetious. But, in all seriousness, I’m a bit distraught at how there are too few hours in the day to read. Plus, with the lovely onset of seasonal allergies that already make my eyes itch, I’m experiencing some eye fatigue with all this up-close eye work. And the library hold avalanche is a real problem, too. I work at a library and I think my coworkers are sick of delivering books to me. The library in the town where I live is probably wondering what kind of witchcraft I’m under that I’ve placed so many holds in the last few weeks. My kitchen table is piled high (probably dangerous for the cat; she likes to perch there) with checked-out materials I haven’t yet had a chance to get to — but I will, I promise! And I do feel a moment of combined horror and excitement when faced with selecting my next read. There are just too many good options! I’m going to die before I get a chance to read everything I want (or, y’know, encounter another reading slump in which I’ll yearn for the days of my reading streak).


Sure, there are bigger problems in the world. It’s kind of nice to ruminate about one not-so-serious, though, don’t you think?

Have you ever struggled with feeling you’re reading too voraciously? Do you call it a reading streak? I want to know — tell me in the comments.