Am I Struggling to Read?

Title in white against a galactic purple background with two planets

This question has been niggling me for a few weeks now.

On the surface, the answer is no. I’m reading at the ferocious rate (~20 books a month) I associate with “normal reading”. I put up my yearly target to 200 books because I was exceeding the previous (175) by so much, and I’m still well ahead according to Goodreads.

I’m loving many of the books I read. Amazingly, I’m re-discovering a love for sci-fi as I push from my genre comfort zone a little.

And yet…

I have four pre-orders/anticipated arcs on my shelves right now, and I’m not reaching for them. I’m staring at my shelves are feeling weary and overwhelmed. They’re emotions and actions I associate with a slump, but that’s not being reflected in my reading.

These four books are all second or third entries in series, and I rarely read later series entries without re-reading all the previous book. I love the first books in these series, and do want to re-read. But I can’t bring myself to pick them up.

I think it’s guilt and self-pressure over my massive TBR. I know by some people’s measure, it’s not big. Across two cities, it’s probably less than 100 books, but it’s making me feel guilty. Seeing all these unread books makes me feel like I’m buying into this capitalist mindset of buying what I don’t need and what I won’t use.

It’s stupid of me. Yes, I know that my ability to buy these books makes me privileged (and that’s the only part of the guilt that’s in anyway reasonable), but that’s a tiny part of it.

I know I am going to read them all, and I know I’m going to re-read most of them several times in my life. I’m supporting an industry I love (and want to be part of one day), authors I admire and helping it continue. But it doesn’t help my brain get over the fact that these books are currently unread. I wish pointing out to my brain that worrying about this means less books read worked.

That brings me back to the fact that these anticipated books are later entries in series. Reading these books means re-reading the rest of the series. Which means NOT reading the unreads. And that, I think, is the heart of the problem.

There is also an element of self-pressure now that I’ve fallen into a pattern of posting every day. Did I not learn back in May that this pattern creates reading pressure? I’ve chosen the banner background deliberately to be the same as that post in order to remind my brain of those messy few reading months, triggered partly by posting daily (as well as a host of other life things that don’t seem to be happening now, touch wood).

I happen to be posting every day because I’m reading enough books to post daily (and even schedule in advance). Make no mistake, I am grateful for that, but it is probably feeding into “if you re-read, you might not be able to post every day”. (Um, brain? There’s a buffer of scheduled posts that can handle that!)

Hopefully, being able to acknowledge all of this to myself makes it easier to pick up re-reads and series. I want to read for me primarily, to pick up books I love as this is a hobby. It helps me relax, so hopefully I start picking up some series soon!

I’m so grateful for this blogging outlet. My introspective ability often works best when talking to people, and blogging gives me the opportunity to do that when there aren’t people in can readily talk to about a bookish-related issue in real life.

How do you balance re-reads and unread books?

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