I’ve always been a hardcore advocate for critically thinking about the books I read. Analysing the themes, dissecting character motivations, and diving deep into the intricacies of the plot has been my jam. I went to school for this. I have a degree in English Literature.
But last year I came to a realisation: always being in critical mode can be downright exhausting.
As much as I adore pondering the layers of meaning behind every page-turn, it took a toll. I found myself gazing at the bookshelves I use to house the books I’ve purchased but not yet read, which tops in at over 650 now, and wondering if I’ve somehow lost a bit of the sheer, unadulterated enjoyment of reading.
Sure, the analytical approach has its merits. It’s helped me appreciate the nuances of storytelling, appreciate the author’s craft, and even develop my own writing skills. But can we also talk about the beautiful simplicity of just getting lost in a story? The kind of story where I’m not hunting for something to say every time I pause reading to race to update my Goodreads status, and get frustrated when I can’t.
That’s why I decided to step back from the online book community. I’ve still got this towering stack of books I received from cold calls waiting to be reviewed. But you know what? I’ve got a ‘pleasure’ stack eight times that size that I’m never going to get through if I don’t just devour them.
It feels almost rebellious, in a way. Giving myself permission to dive into a story without pausing to take notes or think what I’m going to say in a review. Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed reading my spicy adult books with no review, maybe some notes to remind myself in the future how I felt while reading or what aspects really annoyed me. Not an official review.
Sometimes I think about life before Goodreads, when everything I read wasn’t catalogued and on display for members of the public. I love Goodreads for recording my thoughts and looking at my stats, but much less for the ‘pressure’ I feel with the need to keep up to date and active by posting status updates and reviews.
Because sometimes, you need to remind yourself why you fell in love with reading in the first place. When it comes down to it, books are meant to be experienced, cherished, and, above all, enjoyed.