There is nothing easy about being unable to do something you love. I love reading. Always have and always will, no matter how little I read. When I was younger, in school, I was without a doubt the kid with a book in their hand. Teachers told me to stop reading, my friends had to shout my name to get my attention, I learned how to read without colliding in the hallways — the whole bit. I was a bookworm. I read the 754-page "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" within a single day. I was at the top of my game.
I can't read more than 30 pages without taking breaks now.
The definitive answer to this conundrum will forever evade me, but there is one thing I believe is the cause. High school grew too busy and college even more so, and all my reading energy was channeled into required assignments. That's the most logical explanation, especially because my love for reading never died out. To this day, there hasn't been a moment where I've felt a burning hatred towards reading. It doesn't stress me out, it doesn't make me feel bad; I simply have lost the ability to do it.
And for me, that's a very painful thing.
Being pulled into a good book has always been one of my favorite things to do. Feeling yourself read through the pages faster so you can get to the next chapter, and emotionally being on the edge of your seat, even though you might be lying on your bed, is one of life's small treasures. It's exhilarating and magical, and I find it hard to achieve now. Even when I'm off for a semester, picking up a book is like standing in front of a breaching wave. Overwhelming, terrifying, not sure if you'll survive.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. "That kind of sounds like you're stressing out." But I'm not. I know what stress is and this isn't stress. It's exhaustion and a tinge of sadness.
I can still read. That's the frustrating part. Lately, I've been forcing myself too. One chapter, then another and another and another, and then I'm reading again. Completely enthralled with the story and flipping through pages like a madman. Then, for some reason, I put the book down and lose it all again. It's a scream-inducing process. The point of a fallout between me and the printed word is lost within a whirlpool of mentally-draining essays, but I want to rekindle the relationship.
I find it similar to catching up with an old friend, except I'm generally good at hopping back into familiar conversation with friends, and trying to do it with a book feels like getting slapped in the face with a thousand unread pages because the book is angry that you've ignored it for so long. Yeah... sometimes it's hard to be a bookworm.
One thing that keeps me going though, is the knowledge that I'm not alone. I've heard this same experience come from the mouths and keyboards of many, many, many other book lovers. I'm not sure why and I don't want to claim a false truth, but most of them seem to be around my age. That makes me worry that my academic overload theory is true and if that's the case, I'd be upset for a thousand other reasons. Still, having others to share this bookworm burden helps.
This article has turned much more "stream of consciousness" than I had desired. I suppose it doesn't matter in this case though. As long as my thoughts are out there, as long as someone else feels like they are no longer alone than it's all well and good.
I'm going to continue to teach myself to love reading again. Well, I should correct myself. I've always loved reading. I'm going to teach myself to want to read again. For myself, for fun, for the author, for the journey. I'm going to do it. I hope you will too.