Bethany, Books, and Blogs

21 Mar

I’ve been feeling bad about myself lately. Here’s why.

I love books. LOVE books. I used to read all the time, and I’d generally be reading 2-3 books at the same time. I couldn’t go into a bookstore without leaving with at least one new book. I’d get books for Christmas or my birthday and be overjoyed. I’d carry a book in my bag with me everywhere, like Rory from Gilmore Girls. I’d read before leaving for work in the morning, at lunch, before bed, whenever I had a free minute. And then, one day, I just stopped reading.

I can’t pinpoint what happened, exactly, but I think a number of things contributed to my stopping. I started suffering from motion sickness when I’d try to read on the bus during my commute. I was tired of feeling depressed when I’d reach the last book in a series I had loved. I subscribed to Netflix and started spending more of my free time than I care to admit watching entire seasons of televisions shows in one day. Yes, ONE DAY. I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of books I had piled up to read PLUS the infinite number I didn’t actually own but still wanted to read someday and, in pure Bethany fashion, simply shut down and stopped trying to decide what to read. (When I am stressed and have too much to do, I just do nothing. It’s a problem.)

This made me sad. I had given up something that had been my go-to activity since I was very young, something that had always been fun and rewarding. It also made me feel guilty. People continued to give me books that I was not sure I’d ever get around to reading. And, on top of all that, I felt out of the loop. I couldn’t comment on the latest bestseller or excitedly rave and gossip about the newest fun series that my best friend was undoubtedly also reading or say that yes, I had read the book before seeing the movie. I hated having all these awful feelings about an easy pastime that was way more intellectually stimulating than watching TV and should have been something I did naturally. So, I tried to get back into it. I’d pick up a book, read a few chapters, put it down, and ultimately forget about it. I just had no desire to read. Trying to make myself read a book was akin to my mom trying to get Little Bethany to eat her cooked carrots. (That’s a fun story for another day.) (Oh, I just remembered that I owe you all the gopher story, too. I’ve been slacking.)

And then, Rachel and I started this blog and I suddenly became very interested in other people’s blogs. I started surfing the internet machine daily for fun reads. A work friend and I always share interesting new blog or article finds with each other, and I pretty quickly amassed a list of favorite blogs that I check with obsessive frequency. The topics of the blogs vary quite a bit (hair, make-up, parenting, relationships, humor, current events, random musings) as do the people who write them. Some are written by people who I have NOTHING in common with; some are written by people I’m convinced I would be BFFs with in real life. Some of them are not terribly well written; some of them exude a witty, descriptive quality that I can only hope to someday achieve in my writing. But one thing they share is that they all captivate and fascinate me. I love learning about these people’s lives. I’ll go to the archives, start at the beginning of the blog, and instantly feel like I really know these people. They’re my internet friends who do not know I exist. Does that make me feel like a creep? In some ways, yes, yes it does. But, they’ve put themselves out there just like I have- they WANT people to read what they’ve written. They want to share something with the virtual world.

Just yesterday, as I was once again feeling sad about my lack of reading, I came to the realization that I am still reading- just not books! And I’m reading a lot more non-fiction than I used to. Instead of reading make believe, I’m reading about real live people (well, hopefully; the internet is a tricky place) who share anecdotes, wisdom, personal challenges and triumphs, and often provide me with a new way of looking at things. I don’t feel so bad about myself anymore.

FRIENDS AND MOTHER: This does not mean you should stop buying me books. I still love books. In fact, I actually started a new book today and think I figured out how to read on the bus without getting sick! So, perhaps I’ll be delving back into being a bookworm…

Song of the Day: I’m Ready, I Am by The Format

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