Like many others, I’ve been having a hard time reading this year. Trying to keep up with the news, being anxious about the state of the world, taking precautions like washing hands and obsessing over cleanliness in general leaves you physically and mentally drained.
Also, I just could not bring myself to read books and gush about them during a pandemic. It would be similar to Nero fiddling when Rome burned. Not that I have the power of an emperor to make a difference to the situation, but it still felt that way.
To add to this, lockdown meant more tasks at home because the maid was given leave. Don’t worry, we gave her paid leave for four months (I do walk the talk). Having to do the household chores combined with precautions to avoid getting the virus meant no time for any extra activities. I also had a lot of back pain, so had to start stretching and yoga.
At the beginning of lockdown, I had neither the time nor the energy to do anything other than work – for job and at home. Weekends were for more cleaning, catching up on tasks that I couldn’t complete earlier because I was tired, finishing off tasks for the week ahead because I may get tired and needlessly fretting about the world in general.
Reading words, an activity that I enjoyed more than anything, felt like a chore. So I listened to audiobooks while doing the dishes. I loved most of the books I listened to and contemplated over them, but I just couldn’t write reviews. It was tiring to form coherent streams of words and type them down. This is why I haven’t written blog posts or reviews in the past few months.
Then I got tired of living a mundane life of just working and worrying without indulging in any hobbies. All work and no play made me a dull woman. Focusing on one’s interests is important for mental health. So I decided to get some me-time and do something creative. I started a bookstagram where I made crafts/art related to books and post pictures of them. I don’t post often because it takes time to make art/crafts and getting materials in full lockdown was difficult.
As for my media diet challenge, I failed the no social media part of the challenge miserably, but I’m catching up on the reading part. I had been glued to the news and twitter when COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic because we need to be aware of what’s happening so as to protect ourselves better.
I didn’t read a short story and a poem every day. I simply read a bunch of them during my free time or listened to audiobook editions while walking. I started walking as an exercise whenever I get free time because I have a sedentary job. This means no time to sit and read.
Working from home meant being on frequent calls. I also tend to listen to music while working to drown out the surrounding noise and concentrate better. So I ended up having occasional earache. I didn’t want to add to the headphone usage, so I stopped listening to audiobooks. After all, we need to prioritize our health in these trying days.
Now that the lockdown regulations are relaxed, there is less travel restriction, the shops are open and our maid has returned. My household chores, which took about an hour every day, can be replaced with reading. Although, I don’t know if I have the will to read books yet. It’s going to take some time until I get back to my usual reading routine.
Last month, it suddenly struck me that I could read graphic novels, manga, manhwa and comics and it won’t take much time or focus. I received a lot of these from publishers that I need to review anyway. So I resorted to books with pictures for my reading fix.
We seem to have gotten used to the pandemic now and embraced it as part of life. You know how they say that a single death is a tragedy but a million is a statistic? Well, when the pandemic started, I would be following up on the numbers in every affected country. As the days and numbers increased, I was concerned only about my country. Then about my own state, my district, my zone within the district and now, I’m only concerned about whether my acquaintances have recovered from COVID-19.
This is the time when we need to be more careful to protect ourselves but we have all gotten so used to the situation that we’ve become less serious about it. I don’t feel like Nero for reading anymore, because the anxiety around the pandemic has reduced and also, we need to live our own life when we have it.
I now think that as long as we take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and those around us and do our part to society, it is okay to lead our normal life without feeling guilty all the time about those who have it harder than us. Finding some sort of normalcy in such abnormal times can help keep us sane.
I’ve been reading graphic novels, looking up new free webcomics and catching up on some that I used to enjoy but paused reading. At least for the next couple of months, I see myself reading only books with pictures. I might force myself to read something from my 2020 challenge to post a review, but it is mostly going to be graphic novels and maybe some audiobooks occasionally.
Audiobooks and graphic novels have been helpful when I’m finding it hard to read. Are you facing a reading slump now or in the past? What do you do to get out of it? Do recommend tips and recommend any books that pulled you back into reading.
I want to end this post by saying that we don’t know how long this situation is going to continue, so I hope you take proper precautions, catch up with your loved ones and indulge in your hobbies if you can. Do the things that make your life worth living, but with care and caution so that you don’t endanger yourself and others.