“Creative types are haunted by a specific misconception: that because we are spending time doing what we love, we aren’t allowed to be burnt out by it, exhausted from it, or tired of it.” – Leah Rachel Won Esson, BookRiot
Well, long story short – I am woefully behind on my reading list, my book reviews, and my engagement with the bookish community in general. I could list excuses, but the fact of the matter is this – I have simply been feeling burnt out. For those of you who have (luckily) never experienced true “reader burnout”, let me tell you – it is undoubtedly a real thing. And when you, like me, are embroiled in the world of book bloggers and bookstagramming, this burnout seems to be unequivocally associated with guilt and feelings of inadequacy.
Truly, I see this a lot in the reading community, albeit mentioned under different names or explained though different terms – but at its heart, so many of my fellow blogger and book lovers are looking for support to pull them out of their “reading slump”. This is accompanied by a pervasive fear of missing out, of not being among the first to read the hottest new releases, or of not having the most followers. Even the most ardent of book lovers are sure to feel overwhelmed and disappointed in themselves when constantly comparing themselves to others’ success and achievements. The pressure to keep up can seem insurmountable (at least it certainly felt that way to me), and this alone is undoubtedly a major factor in “reader burnout”.
“Forcing yourself through burnout will only make the books go by slower, and forcing yourself to read when your mind is pulling away will only make reading less of a pleasure.” – Leah Rachel Won Esson, BookRiot
Upon this realization, I have recently come to realize (through some intense introspection and self-reflection) that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I have not fallen off some path, I am not falling behind some imagined finish-line, nor have I stopped loving reading and blogging. I have come to realize that I can love something, but still need a break from it (it being reading and blogging, of course). And I did desperately need a break from it – because after four years of blogging almost weekly, I was running on empty. So instead of forcing myself through books I didn’t feel equipped to read, or writing reviews I simply didn’t have the energy for, I stepped back and started just spending my time doing whatever it was I wanted to do – whether that was playing Pokemon Sword, or binge-watching Star Wars. I considered why I was reading what I was reading – was it for me, or for others? Were my goals self-driven, or a reflection of my own subconscious fears of falling behind my peers? Once I worked through this, and began to really consider why I began on this path at all, I began to feel more myself again. A break was what I needed to gain perspective, to reinvigorate myself, and to remind myself why I love reading in the first place.
“Self-care can come in many different forms and sometimes the best care you can give yourself is a break.” – Leah Rachel Won Esson, BookRiot
So to my fellow blogger, bookworms, and/or Bookstagrammers reading this – please remember that you are not lost. You are not failing yourself, or anyone else. In taking a break – by embracing your so-called “reading slump” – you are really taking care of yourself. And when you are ready, you will pick up that next book, or write that next blog post.