Back in May, I wrote a story titled “I’m a Books Editor and I...Don’t Want to Read Right Now.” It was about—you guessed it—how even though reading and writing about books is a major part of my job, I was having trouble focusing on reading. “I have a confession,” I revealed. “During this quarantine, I’ve been embarrassingly delinquent about reading.”
Just a couple months into COVID-19, I was in a reading drought. This, too, shall pass, I assumed. But here’s the thing: It didn’t pass. I haven’t read this few books in a year since…ever? In theory, there has never been a better time to dive into the contents of my bookshelf. (Transcendent Kingdom! I see you…and oh how I long to open your chic, millennial pink and gold jacket!) But in practice? I read only the ten or so books I reviewed for PureWow and maybe two others. Yikes.
Pre-pandemic, I read all the time. I read on the subway, I read before falling asleep and sometimes I even read at my desk. (It’s part of my job!) I’ve always viewed reading as an escape. As a very (very) anxious person, I find it hard to check my brain out of my own reality. I replay conversations and scenarios and overthink quite literally everything that I do or say. Seemingly magically, reading allows me to turn my focus onto someone else’s life, if only for a few precious hours.
But this year, for whatever reason, that stopped working. Rather than bringing me joy, reading came to feel like a burden, and the more bummed out I became about not reading, the more I beat myself up about it. I tried to sit down with Raven Leilani's acclaimed debut Luster. But after only a few minutes, I found myself picking up my phone to watch TikToks of dogs getting their lips stuck on their teeth (if you know you know).