In which I anxiety spiral

This year has been a slog. For a lot of different reasons, both international and domestic. I’ve had trouble all year with reading (among other things). And for someone who takes comfort in time spent reading, who takes solace in novels, this has been especially difficult.

Am I picking the wrong books? I read a thriller recommended by my husband last week and started out really enjoying it. It ended up taking me five days to get through, and by the end there were all these little nit-picky things about it that drove me insane. Like, why does the boy have to be the one saving the girl? The book is supposed to be about the girl! Why is abortion being used as a plot device like this? Why so much focus on breasts? Is it me or is this book actually problematic?

Should I stop pushing on? Is this just a reading rut that has nothing to do with anything else? I’m currently trying to make my way through the second book of a promised trilogy. I loved the first book. It restored my faith in the historical fiction genre, convinced me that they were still worth reading. But over 200 pages into this second book, I don’t care? There’s a romance, a girl ahead of her time, history that I don’t often read about, and the writing is decent. But I can’t seem to care and I think often about maybe just stopping but I just did that a couple of weeks ago, can I do it again?

Do I need to spend less time obsessing? Well obviously. And yet, I feel like I’m always thinking about the other books that I could be reading. About the time that I am not spending reading, about the time I’ve spent reading things that don’t matter to me. I’ve read articles about how it’s not that hard to read 200 books in a year and I struggle with the fact that I haven’t even cracked 100 yet. I think about the books that I have read but not reviewed. About the books that I’ve bought or had sent to me that I haven’t even cracked.

I think longingly of Non Fiction November and all the books I will be ‘free’ to read then. But I also think about all the fiction that I will ignore in the service of Non Fiction November. I think about the fact that I’ve been driving to work nearly every day and all the reading time I’m losing because of it. I think about the days that I get alone time that I spend watching trash TV instead of with my nose in a book.

Mostly I think about how this year has robbed me of quite a bit, including the simple pleasure of the enjoyment of a good book. And then the anxiety spiral starts again.

So, I’m still here. But, you know, in a different headspace.


23 thoughts on “In which I anxiety spiral

  1. I’m so sorry! I hate when something I love, like reading, starts stressing me out, and I start fretting over the books I’m not reading, while at the same time NOT enjoying the book I actually am reading. It’s such an awful place to be in. I wish I knew the cure. But for sure stop any book you’re not loving. After all, you might come back to it later. But I don’t think reading should ever be a slog. Hope better books, and a better mood, come your way soon. 🙂

  2. I’ve been in a really similar headspace, and it’s especially hard when, as you said, reading is normally what gets you OUT of that headspace. I’ve had to just accept that other things are making me feel better right now, and the reading will return when it returns. 😊

  3. Oh no! I feel for you! When I get all spinny like that, going for a long walk helps, or a mini-vacation if you can. I think it’s often that I need a little change of environment. I hope you figure it out soon! *little heart that everyone else seems to know how to make but I don’t* xo

  4. I’m sorry…sounds like my reading the past month or so. My reading issues are more out of chaos in my life, but same results.
    Hope things turn around for you.

    • That’s a big part of it for me too. When it’s all settled, I’ll talk about it more. It’s been…one of the most challenging years in my whole life. Thankfully the only constant in life is change so it won’t be like this for forever.

  5. I can totally relate to this. It seems like everything I love ends up giving me anxiety at some point. With the book thing, what has somewhat worked for me is to use the library recklessly and give myself permission to just read at will without any need to finish anything (hence the library – no money guilt). It usually brings me back to my relaxed reading pace, if I can breathe through the discomfort of returning unread or partially read books.

    • It is SO MUCH easier to stop reading library books! Another part of the magic of the library. I think I’m at the point where I have so many unread books of my own that adding to that from the library is it’s own kind of anxiety. Probably need more fresh air? Or hide for a couple of days.

  6. A lot of what you say sounds only too familiar. I hadn’t realized how burnt out I was until I spent 2 weeks without Internet access and a self-imposed ban on any and all news. I realize that that’s not a good thing to do on a daily basis, but it has certainly reminded me of what my personal priorities are. It sounds like it might be helpful for you as well if you tried to step back for a little while. Rather than fret about all the books you should be reading, do something completely different, and don’t think about anything reading-related for a while. Maybe that will clear your head a little bit. In any case, I hope that you’ll be able to leave this slump behind you soon.

    • You’re probably right that it would be good for me to step out of the world like that. But being online is part of my real world job. I need to be better about it on my own time though. Clever little phones make it so difficult to disconnect. I’m pretty sure that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m trying really hard to focus on that. But my life has been chaos and disappointment for a solid 10 months. I’m a pretty tough cookie but I’m floundering a bit.

  7. Ugh this sounds really shitty, I’m sorry you’re going through this right. I went through a period of intense anxiety in my early 20s, but it slowly got better, and now my anxiety is little to none most days, so it will get better! You’re not doomed to a life of anxiety, this too shall pass! As does hopefully your reading rut 🙂

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