Balancing Books: Course vs Enjoyment

As someone who has loved books my whole life, the concept of studying English literature seemed like a smart move. Now I could spend all my time reading! What no one seems to tell you is that reading all day, everyday, the entire time will slowly suck any fun away from reading that you had. 

In my first year I think I read two books for my own enjoyment over the course of around 6 months. I barely even managed to squeeze in my course books let alone books for fun. The idea that I used to be able to sit and read for hours on end seemed so alien to me that I was worried for a minute that I had made it all up.

Maybe I hated reading. Maybe I had never realised until now how much I hated reading. 

Photo by cottonbro on

But then COVID hit and I was forced back home with an endless supply of unread books to touch and very little else to do. And I found myself gravitating back towards them. All these books to read, and to just read for fun. 

In order to turn around my attitude towards my course so that I didn’t suck all the life out of the hobby I loved the most, I needed to change my mindset. Rewire the cogs in my brain. So maybe I wasn’t completely in love with the concept of studying the Renaissance for 2 months? I tried to treat it as much as a separate entity from actual reading as I could. Historical research, analytical methods, anything I could to make sure I didn’t confuse it with reading for passion. 

Reading slumps are a part of every reader’s life, but I’ve found them becoming more and more prominent in my life since studying at university. The concept of sitting down even for 20 minutes to read for pleasure after spending my whole day reading is enough to drive me up the wall. The brain refuses to even look at them. 

To those who aren’t readers, the concept of reading for self-care can be a strange one. But I’ve very much become attuned to treating it as such. Even if I don’t manage to get 100 pages read a day or some other ridiculous target, even that 10 minutes I spent reading were entirely for me. A little slice of peace. 

I find myself touching on this every week, but it is a concept I am slowly coming to grapple with – this idea of guilt. Why do we feel guilty for not reading? Aside from the material side of books, I think this guilt also comes a little from that small slither of ourselves where our passions and loves lay. It’s making us feel bad for not doing the things we love. 

It is strange how such an unaccountable hobby can make you feel so much pressure. 

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