This weekend I did something I try to do every April. I got together my TBR. I prepped snacks and ordered take out. I sat down with my pup and I read. I read and read and read. Every year I try to participate in at least 1 of the Dewey 24 hour readathons. I started back in college, close to ten years ago. 20 year old me had a completely different life with different obligations, and a much messier sleep schedule. Dedicating 24 hours to reading then was a fun challenge, but not one that required marking up my calendar months in advance.
Over the last few years I find myself missing most readathons. I don’t have the time, and my schedule usually fills up weeks, if not months in advance. In the past few years even if I had a readathon day free it would include meeting friends for coffee, running to the store, or hosting an impromptu game night.
In short, it is really hard to cancel plans with real people just to read.
But plans are nonexistent right now, but my TBR pile is still very real. Prior to Saturday I was in the middle of 6 books. Now I’m at 3.
For the first in close to a decade I approached this readathon with purpose, and it changed the way I read.
The last couple months have been full of distraction reading, skimming paragraphs to finish a story, and barely keeping characters straight in my head. Distraction reading isn’t immersive for me. The things I am trying to avoid are always there, just below the surface. It is easy to stop to scroll twitter, to go bother my boyfriend, to walk my dog. The story is there as a crutch, not as something I actually care about.
This weekend I turned my distraction reading on its head. I appreciate every book with purpose. When I sat down I sat down to read, not to pass time, not to forget about the pandemic outside my door, not in place of doing something productive.
And my quarantine reading experience completely changed. I forgot how freeing reading with purpose could be. That falling into a story is possible, and that I am still entirely able to binge a book without issue.
I also found the book doesn’t matter. I took this readathon to cull my ever growing “Currently Reading” pile, so I was almost exclusively attacking books I’ve been reading for weeks, if not months. I finally finished The 4th Outlander book, and found that I could actually retain the events that happen in the last quarter of the book with some detail instead of a foggy sense that something weird just happened. I finished a tongue and cheek romance that I auto-bought the day it was released because it sounded so perfect. It turns out it was pretty perfect, my lack of interest in it over the last few weeks had more to do with my lack of purpose in my reading, not in a lack of story.
I was able to feel connected to characters, appreciate motive, and to not just go through the motions.
So I am taking this lesson with me for the rest of this week. My reading will not be for five minutes between meetings, or as a hold over when I am too bored and lazy to do anything else. I will pick up my books because I want to enjoy them. And hopefully that means I will get more out of them.