- The Picture of Dorian Gray
- A Visit from the Goon Squad
- Eight Cousins
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- A Little Life
- Franny and Zooey
Listed above are books I need to read for school and books I’d like to read for pleasure, neither of which I can accomplish. The list is much longer than seven titles of various genres. In fact, the list never ends–it’s daunting to think of how little time I have to read so many great works of literature. As a writer, I also find myself to be a consumer of both movies and books and lately, I’ve been favoring the former quite heavily. Having read so many books I wasn’t a fan of for school, I’m in a bit of a summer burnout. Though reading is my favorite hobby, it can be difficult to stay consistent with. I find myself asking how I’m supposed to balance schoolwork with leisure, which book to prioritize, which books to just put down, and which books I should read according to my friends’ very pretentious Goodreads profiles. And, while I’m staring at the page of an up-and-coming author’s book, these thoughts are circling my head so quickly that I don’t actually retain a single word they’ve written. I’m so preoccupied with stress caused by outside factors that the time I’ve tried to dedicate to reading is slipping away from me.
Something I’ve learned from these on-and-off reading slumps is that it is okay to put a book down and just take a break. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to put this into practice, but it’s very clear that taking a break after I’ve hit a breaking point is not the solution. It leads to weeks of procrastination and exhaustion, even guilt because I can’t seem to get back to the things I genuinely enjoy doing. By acknowledging the fact that everyone needs a break sometimes—yes, even from the things they love—we’re able to reach our full potential when it’s time to get back to work.
Personally, I find it easiest to ground myself by exercising to narrow my focus. Other days, I prefer to watch a movie that I know inspires me to get creative on my own. When I find myself really struggling to get through a book, I’ll put it on pause and spend the day rereading my favorite classic, The Catcher in the Rye. Little habits like these get my mind back to a system/desire to read and write, helping me to remember why I started to begin with.
I recently had the privilege of participating in a question panel with a rising author. I asked them about their editing habits and how they are able to fully commit to a piece of work and motivate themself to finish it. Their simple advice was, “Keep it fun.” Try to end on high notes, parts of writing (either your own or someone else’s) that make you feel good. The moment it starts to feel like a chore, take a step back. Though it can be overlooked as a form of self-care, the truth is that taking a break is essential to our happiness. You’re not wasting time. You’re not being lazy. You are preserving your spark, you’re preventing burnout.