I first started to notice it about halfway through 2019. Did you notice it too? Suddenly books were everywhere and it was like there had been a whisper from someone that BOOKS ARE BRILLIANT – spread the word! All over the place, book reviews and recommendations were popping up and everyone totally rolled with it…and then it went too far. It started to become a sport. I read 30 books last year! Oh really? I’ve read 5 books this month! Yeah, well I’ve read 2 and that’s just today! Okay that last one might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it did start to feel a little bit like it had a competitive edge. That idea became firmly cemented when I spotted a couple of people talking about having genuine worries that they weren’t reading as much as everyone else and what’s wrong with me and OH MY GOD PLEASE STOP.
Somewhere along the way the message got seriously messed up. Books truly are brilliant. But it doesn’t have to be a competition about how many you read or how long it takes you. We’re all different in our book lives, just like we are in our real ones, and that is absolutely one hundred percent okay. Takes you a full year to read one book? So what! Flipping brilliant that you stuck it out to the end. Get through a book a week? I salute you. Quick, slow, in, out, shaking it all about and mixing it up with multiple books at a time – you do you. Now I have worries that if the competitive edge doesn’t stop, the whole books are brilliant thing will be forgotten and then it will all be over. And I’ll be sad.
I’ve known for years and years about how brilliant books are. The love started really young, like toddler years. I can *still* recall some of the words to my most favourite book when I was little, that had a combination of words and images: Bobby had a 5p, all his very own… (this says a lot about my age, 5p!) And from there, the young book worship turned into a serious habit. It’s been said many times that people shouldn’t even try to talk to me if I’m reading because I just lose myself in the words, even if I’m surrounded by noise, it’s like I enter the reading bubble and I don’t come out of it until it’s time to take the steps back in to the real world.
And that was why my heart filled when all the book posts started to appear. Actual, physical books too. There was even some talk about people borrowing books from the library which is just *chef’s kiss* truly wondrous because libraries are beyond brilliant. But all the worry and the anxiety about ‘proving’ yourself in the world of books is taking it too far. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. The act of picking up a book and losing yourself in its world is one of life’s wonders and it brings genuine joy. It shouldn’t be tainted with competition or an edge, just because being seen to read makes you look good.
Read because you want to.
Read because it brings you joy.
Read because it transports you to new worlds and introduces you to different people and takes you out of your small circle and shows you the big wide world around you.
Read to be challenged.
Read to be inspired.
Read to see and feel however you want to feel.
But please don’t turn it into a competition. Because then the joy might be removed from someone who might feel that edge and then that could pass on to someone else and so on and then we’ll be back to no books. The dreaded wasteland.
The season of the book is upon us. Long may it prosper.