Making Reading Private and Personal

A bookshelf that is not my "to be read" shelf.

At the start of this year, I was in a bit of a reading slump. I didn’t have much interest in any of the books I was looking forward to reading, so I switched to different books and solved my slump. But since then, I haven’t been posting what I’ve been reading (aside from tweeting about two new releases!). I do have a Goodreads account, and I have taken the time to post ratings and reviews after I finished reading a book. I also updated my status while reading, as a means of trying to make myself accountable and read a certain number of books per month.

But I’m not doing that anymore.

A few months ago, I made the decision to keep my “to be read” shelf private. I didn’t want to update on Goodreads anymore, or tweet every time I started and finished a book. This came while I was reading a collection of short stories, which I didn’t love or hate. I didn’t want to review and rate the book. Then I realised I didn’t want to do that with the next book I planned to read.

Having a TBR shelf so public, with the intention of rating and reviewing, put too much pressure on me. I felt like I needed to read the books for the purpose of reviewing them, rather than just reading! Reading was no longer a leisure activity. I started getting overly critical and nit-picky with books. It was exhausting and felt like I was studying my English degree again.

It also felt needlessly competitive, sort of? Like I needed to read faster, read more books, rate books as soon as possible, and review books with a critical essay. Reading wasn’t fun anymore when I felt like people were watching my opinion of the book. Sometimes I read books for the fun of it, and I don’t have a lot to say about them. Some books are just books. I don’t need to critique them all, and I know that, but that was the attitude I had for displaying books I was reading or planning to read. I just wanted to read!

Books can become a personal thing, whether you’re writing or reading them. So keeping the books private and to myself was a step toward that again. I don’t want to read books in order to discuss how good or bad they are. Maybe that’s why I’m not a book blogger or YouTuber—those folks do a lot of work with reviewing books! I’ve thought about adding book reviews to my blog (I posted a few way back in the day), but I’ve decided I don’t want to.

Now, with my TBR just the shelf by my bed or the downloads in my Kindle app or the private shelf in my local library account, I feel better. Reading is personal again. I can read as slowly as I naturally do. My opinions are kept to myself and I can read what I want, rather than what I think I should be reading. (*cough* like new releases that I can’t afford and my library doesn’t get for months after the pub date.)

I’ve returned to the bliss of reading quietly by myself, like I did as a kid. 🙂