Real Talk: Reading Guilt

Posted January 31, 2018 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Discussions / 13 Comments

Real Talk is an original feature here at Girl in the Pages where I’ll discuss random things that come across my mind in an honest and sometimes spontaneous manner. It may be about books, blogging, life, or anything else!

The beginning of the year is always a wonderful time for readers and bloggers, because it’s full of new resolutions, reading challenge sign ups, and setting the ever-popular Goodreads goal. I myself always get caught up in the “new-year-new-me” flurry, and this year have set my Goodreads goal higher than ever before at 80 books (though I’m hoping to really make it to 100 or close to it). However despite all of my optimistic goal setting, when it comes time to actually step away from my blog and READ, more often than not I get consumed by an overwhelming guilt. Guilt for idling the time away with a book when there are chores to do, errands to run, pets to attend to, etc. That’s not even counting the BLOG guilt- when I’m reading there’s always the nagging at the back of my mind that’s worrying about finding the time to develop new content, respond to comments, check out other blogs, and of course, knowing this will add another book to my “to-review” pile. I can usually ignore these thoughts for about 40 minutes or so before I begin to feel so bogged down by them that I force myself to attend to one of the many action items I feel I should be doing, which ultimately cuts into my reading time- on a weekend where I could probably get several hours in, I am lucky to squeeze in 30 or so minutes.

What I find interesting is that I don’t feel this guilt when engaging in other hobbies. Whether I’m watching TV or working on my blog, I don’t feel as worried about the other looming tasks I should be doing. I’m not constantly doing a cost-benefit analysis in my head about if I can really afford to be spending the time enjoying myself. I think a lot of this stems from the way society views reading, since it’s such a solitary, quiet act- so many times I’ve bee interrupted by others when I’m reading when I doubt I’d ever be interrupted by anyone else, because I’m “just reading.” Even if I’m reading while on the elliptical or treadmill at the gym, I’m much more likely to be interrupted or talked to than if I’m listening to music or watching TV (so I’ve now taken to wearing headphones while I read while exercising even if I’m not listening to music).

I recognize that a lot of this guilt is mostly me just feeling overwhelmed by everything constantly going on in my life and reading feels more like its solely “me time” than other passive activities that I may engage in with others (such as watching tv, gaming, etc). I struggle a lot with relaxing and sometimes downtime is almost stressful for me because I get so into a go-go-go adrenaline fueled mindset that I forget how to easily relax (whenever I take a vacation from work it usually takes me 2-3 days before I’m truly able to get into that “vacation” mode). However, I just thought I’d throw my feelings of reading guilt out there to see if anyone else experienced it too! It’s something I hope to work on in 2018, especially after reading Madalyn’s post about how to read more, as one of her tips is to set aside intentional time for reading so you can read more efficiently than just a few pages every day!

Let’s Discuss!

Do you feel guilty when you take time out of your day solely just to read? Do you find that people are more likely to interrupt you when you’re reading than they are when you’re participating in other hobbies? Do you feel guilty when you’re reading that you should be blogging and vice versa? Let me know in the comments!


13 responses to “Real Talk: Reading Guilt

  1. I don’t normally feel guilty when I read – I have a lot free time, so that’s how I choose to spend it! But sometimes I look at how much I’ve been reading and think, hmm, could I have been doing something else with my time? Like working on other hobbies or even doing chores?

    • Doing chores is what ALWAYS gets me. Even as I’m typing this, I’m thinking about how I have to do laundry, mop, clean bathrooms, etc. I never realized how much time I have to spend cleaning as an adult, and it usually all gets pushed to the weekend, unfortunately!

  2. I totally feel you on the reader guilt! I like what you had to say about this maybe being a product of how society views reading– I had never thought of it that way, but yeah, we tend to think reading is something that can be easily interrupted. I feel like lots of people view it as something passive to just pass the time, as opposed to something to be actively enjoyed. Great discussion, Cristina (and thanks for sharing my post, too!)!

    Madalyn @ Novel Ink recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
    • YES great point about others viewing reading as a “passive” activity, when it’s actually so engaging (especially for reviewers/bloggers who are taking notes, thinking of discussion topics, etc. while reading). Yes, it’s a quiet, solitary activities but that doesn’t make it any less productive! (Though I need to keep telling myself that too lol).

      ALSO I took your advice on the setting aside purposeful chunks of time to read thing, and finished an entire book yesterday! I rarely read a book in one day, but by setting aside an hour after I woke up to read in bed, and then two or so hours after dinner, I was able to finish an entire novel in one day (and still feel like I had time to do other things too!)

  3. I definitely feel guilty when I spend time reading. However, I’ve got a lot better this year at making sure I take some time out to read because I have such a busy job. I’ve got to have a balance somehow, right? I try to ignore the guilt when I can.

    • YES reading has become a sort of self-care activity, especially since my job is crazy busy! I have been getting better at ignoring the guilt, but it’s more self imposed than anything, especially when I think about how I should be cleaning my house or exercising instead!

  4. Ali

    I don’t normally feel guilty for reading. Reading is something I love and if someone doesn’t like that then they can get over it. Though sometimes I feel like I should be blogging more, so there is that too. I need to find the right balance this year. SO I’m working on that.

    • Definitely still struggling with the reading/blog balance (especially since they are both activities that are so co-dependent on each other!) I’m hoping to be a lot better with keeping up with writing reviews this year so that I don’t feel so behind every time I read a new book!

  5. Ally

    I never feel guilty about reading, howeverI occasionally feel guilty about what I’m reading . . . I always take time to read after dinner, usually while I’m doing laundry. I carry a book in the car so if I get somewhere early I can read my “car book.”

  6. I definitely feel this sometimes! It’s usually related to chores around the house. I definitely miss having a commute (sometimes – not all the time hahaha) for audiobook listening because I could spend a solid hour in the morning (between my shower/get ready time and the drive to work) and 15-20 minutes in the evening driving home. I feel productive because I’m multi-tasking WHILE reading.

    • I knowwww it’s so hard to sit on the couch and relax when I’m like I should be dusting…or doing dishes…or laundry…Now that I’ve started working a few audiobooks in I feel like it’s helped boost my reading quite a bit! And then I feel like I’ve already accomplished something once I’ve arrived at work!

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