It’s been a solid year and a half since I graduated from the University of Malta with my English Literature degree and since then, I haven’t been able to read.
Reading was a big part of my childhood. I used to carry a book with me everywhere just in case I had time to read a few pages, so, not being able to read is a big thing for me.
It’s not because I don’t want to, but really, it’s because I can’t. There are three reasons to this.
1. I was forced to read so many novels during my undergrad that I didn’t want to read (anything Victorian era), plus, I read so many research papers that I don’t feel like reading heavy material.
2. I attempted at starting Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams last summer. I fell in love with his classic novel called Stoner which made me want to read more of his work. Butcher’s Crossing was promising. Although Williams’ voice is very much noticeable in then novel, it does not have as much texture like in Stoner. So, I didn’t feel engaged enough to keep reading.
3. Ever since I started working full-time, I feel like I haven’t been using my thinking muscles. I create content every day – I don’t analyze texts like I used to. And after a long day of work, the last thing I feel like doing is exercizing my thinking muscles.
So yeah, it’s been a while since I finished reading a book. It’s not a nice thought to have BUT I haven’t been pressuring myself about it. I’m in a good place mentally, so now’s the time to peacefully get into doing these small things like knitting and cooking healthy meals… and reading.
One of my mantras in life is to take things slow and do things my way.
So, I want to fall in love with reading again – my way.
My plan is to ease into reading again and I’ve already started. I don’t read for hours and hours, but instead, twenty to thirty minutes every day. Small progress builds up to big change. (This applies to everything, like school!)
I sensed that I shouldn’t start reading literary texts that require heavy analysis because I’d be throwing myself into the deep end (for example, Life of Pi by Yann Martel).
Instead, I need to read something engaging but not some cheesy romance novel. I can’t read a romance novel written for the sole purpose of entertainment anymore. I need something that has weight. I need to read something of literary value.
Therefore, I selected four novels from my tiny library which I feel are good to start with. Not too easy but not too hard.
Of course, I want to finish Butcher’s Crossing. I found myself reading it last week. The novel is set in the 1870s in which four men head out into the tough country to find a piece of land in the Colorado mountains where buffalo pass by with the intention of hunting them.
I grew up watching cowboy movies (I have a crush on Clint Eastwood), so this novel has that Westerner tone. The novel revolves around their journey with poignant imagery of the land. Those are two words which interest me: ‘journey’ and ‘land’. Where does the journey lead them to? And what does the land represent?
Sidenote: I’m glad that I’m feeling engaged with the novel unlike last year. I guess this was the right time to read it.
Another novel on my list is The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith. I heavily resonated with her novel, White Teeth, therefore, I had to give The Autograph Man a shot. I read a brief on it online but I want to start it and keep myself surprised.
Next on the list is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. My friend gave me this book for Christmas and I’ve heard good things about it. The main character, Eleanor, is weird and awkward and apparently, has a peculiar voice. Yet, there’s much to this persona which the reader is meant to discover. I’m excited to dip into this one.
And finally, I started reading Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga in 2021 and I never got to finishing it. Every woman should read this novel. I loved studying post-colonial literature during my undergrad studies. While I was initially reading this novel, it struck me at how unjust the world was (in some countries, still is) for women who want to get an education. And that’s what this story revolves around.
I’m about to finish a big personal project, so I’m really set on reading again. I feel content on the (tiny) progress I’ve made.
There’s a right time for everything. Forcing something to happen just won’t make it happen.
So, have you ever had phases in your life when you couldn’t read? Let me know in the comments below!