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Our Reading Lives

What I Did When I Wasn’t Reading

Annika Barranti Klein

Staff Writer

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

Sometime last year, I stopped reading. I still read the internet, and I picked up books occasionally, but I just could not seem to get through one. So I did other things.

I developed a mild addiction to YouTube sewing and knitting podcasts. When I say “mild,” I hope you understand that I watched hundreds of hours of these videos and I check my subscriptions tab at least twice a day. Okay–twice an hour, unless I was already watching one.

I thought about starting my own podcast. I did not.

I knitted four pairs of socks, eleven hats, and two sweaters. I knit a lot anyway, but I rarely finish quiiiiite so many projects.

I watched sitcoms and superhero shows. I am caught up, or nearly caught up, on all of the CW shows except Arrow, which is too boring for me to stay awake during. I’ve watched every season of Parks and Recreation at least five times and every season of New Girl twice. I also watched Luke Cage, which is amazing. (I skipped Iron Fist.)

I downloaded a LOT of samples to my kindle, and read none of them. I also bought at least a dozen full books, all unread.

Make that six pairs of socks and three sweaters.

I took fewer baths, because I like reading in the bath but I couldn’t find anything to read. There is nothing more depressing than getting into a nice hot bath with a book you’re excited about, reading two pages, and putting it down in favor of your phone because you just can’t focus on it.

I guess it’s accurate to say I started a lot of books.

I cooked a lot. (I read cookbooks sometimes.) I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and started making big batches of food to pack up into single servings and freeze. I finally found a recipe for pancakes that I like better than all the other recipes for pancakes. (All recipes for pancakes are basically the same.) I started making Dutch Babies, which are like big eggy pancakes.

I wrote some stories and spent a lot of time fretting about being a writer who is not currently reading.

I made a lot of plans all centered around the belief that I would start reading again any minute. I moved a lamp closer to my favorite chair (which was helpful for knitting) and charged my kindle and started bringing a book with me everywhere that I went, even though I would not end up reading it while I was out.

I re-read some old favorites. I suppose technically this counts as reading, and it certainly was comforting.

I slowly began to read again. Very slowly, in fits and starts. I am still approaching books cautiously, trying to stay in their peripheral vision until I am at least halfway through and they can’t get away. Paperbacks are easier these days. YA and MG are my best friends. I am trying poetry.

What do you do when you’re not reading?