The Reading Block

Happy Sunday to my lovely readers! It’s Sunday which brings you here, to this space, my blog, to read about whatever thoughts I might be having. Well here we are. Today I feel like diving into the reading block. What is a reading block?

Let’s start off with my own personal experience. As a kid, you would’ve easily found myself carrying a book around with me when I’d be out with my family on Sundays just in case I’d find time to read. I used to drive my mom crazy to take me to book stores and buy me books. Book fairs were something I’d long for. And my elementary school engrained reading into me. I never used to have problems with reading.

I’m a young adult now and let’s just say things have gotten complicated. As a teenager, I was immersed into the genre of young adult fiction, ranging from Divergent, The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, to urban fantasy such as The Mortal Instruments. And let’s not get started on Harry Potter. A good soppy romance was always fun to read too. I was hung up on these novels. I literally fell in love with Four! And John Green was considered to be amazing at the time for YA fiction. But now, at my age and being an English literature student, I’ve got to be real with myself: these novels were never true literature.

Ever since I became a university student and started reading works of literature, I came to realize how off I was when it came to reading. I wasn’t reading literature and yet it was good. I was once asked this question back when I was sixteen: who is your favorite writer? At the time, stupid me, said J.K. Rowling and the person who had asked me the question made a face. He was a professor and my answer was on so many levels wrong. Today, I would never answer that question in such a way. (p.s. I don’t have a favorite writer but favorite writers)

Within these past three years of studying, I’ve come to differentiate between what is canonical literature and what’s just best-selling. Just because a novel is best-selling does not mean it’s actually valuable. Which led me to this problem: I didn’t know what to read anymore. There was a time that I didn’t want to read because I couldn’t enjoy what I was reading. If a much younger version of myself were to ever hear me say such a thing, she’d think I went crazy. Sometimes, I do wonder: has my enthusiasm for reading ended? Or is this just a reading block? A phase?

I’ve come to somewhat answer my question:

1. I had a friend, former English literature student, once tell me: after studying English at undergraduate level, you’ll never be able to read a book just for pleasure. And now, I can say she was right. I can’t go back to reading YA or mainstream or soppy romances. I have tried and easily got bored. Studying English literature kinda drains you from actually enjoying it. Instead, our minds are forced to think in an analytical way whilst we’re reading. I mean, the awareness is great because you’re actually reading literature but reading is simply not like it used to be.

2. When you’re too busy living, it’s hard to break off from your life and dedicate concentration and energy to reading. I blame social media. We are glued to our phones and they numb our mind from being grounded. Our phones have much to do with our concentration problems when it comes to studying. And I feel it very much so when it comes to reading.

3. After becoming an English literature student, I found it hard to rediscover my love for reading simply because I didn’t know what genre I liked. Now that I’m in my third year of studies, in which we focus on Contemporary and Modernist works, I’m relieved to have finally found the right genre for me. I love Modernism and Contemporary fiction because they’re so depressing. Yes, I like depressing books about lost hope, trauma and mundanity. And what’s most important is that I’ve gotten to connect myself as a reader to the genre I fit in best as a writer.

I can’t say my reading block is over. I mainly read books assigned to my undergraduate course and I wonder what will happen once I finish studying. Will I keep reading? I want to, but will I actually? Three years of studying literature really burns you out yet I have so many books on my shelf waiting for me to read them – and I can’t wait. I get so tempted to start reading them but I’ve got enough reading to do right now that I’m trying to keep up with.

I wonder what other people feel about reading blocks. I wonder if they know whether or not they’re experiencing something similar. When you really think about it, it’s like you realize this thing about yourself that was always there but you couldn’t fully grasp it. I like to think about these things simply to try and understand myself better.

Each book is a text. When a reader reads a text, they are able to create their own text world within their mind. This is what books do: open our minds to infinite possibilities. This is why we read. And I love it. I love what books do. I love how writers construct them. That is why literature is a form of Art. Books affect us in ways we cannot always comprehend. And that is why I can’t go back to reading mainstream fiction: there’s more to a book when it’s a work of Art.

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