The last few years I have participated in Goodreads annual reading challenge, where you set a goal of number of books to read and Goodreads tracks your progress throughout the year, letting you know if you’re behind or ahead of schedule. It’s a great way to track what you read each year, and let’s be honest, an opportunity to show off to your friends what a prolific and profound reader you are. I’m joking but also I’m not.
A good average for me has been somewhere around 75, some years it’s been higher, others lower, so I set it there for 2020. I was doing okay until I finished “The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which I finished on March 2nd. Then suddenly, nothing. I didn’t read anything for over a month and a half, when I finished The Year of Magical Thinking, a book about grief by Joan Didion. If I recall the only thing I could handle reading about was someone who was sadder than I was. I know I was not (am not) alone in these feelings, and I know that the ramifications of this global virus are being experienced in devastating ways that I have been mostly spared from. Still, like everyone else, I watched a future I was so sure of crumble in front of my eyes and it has affected me in ways not previously imagined.
Reading is my passion, I believe in always having a book lying around so I am never caught without something to read, I believe that books can change your life (The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is narrated by a dog, gave me my personal life mantra “You go where your eyes go”), and they allow me to connect with others, as there is nothing I enjoy more than discussing a good story. This period of not being able to read, or at least not being interested in reading, has surprised and saddened me, but I’ve given myself grace about it. Slowly books have come back in my life and I’ve been able to hold my attention for more than a few minutes. I don’t think I’ll make it to 75 this year, but when I look back on my 2020 reading challenge, I can be proud of what I did accomplish, no matter what the number is. I’m reminded of a quote from another book that changed me The Book of Joy:
“Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreaks without being broken.” – Achbishop Desmond Tutu
I’m curious, have you experienced a reading slump during the pandemic?