Press J to jump to the feed. Press question mark to learn the rest of the keyboard shortcuts
Found the internet!
r/literature
493
Posted by9 months ago
Helpful

i used to read 1-2 books a week and then i went to college (english literature major and minor in creative writing) and i feel like it ruined reading for me.

ive been out of school since the pandemic started and i haven’t read one book. i feel like it could be because i was forced to read but i also was reading for fun when i wasn’t in school (like on break). or just my depression coming back. it’s frustrating, i used to absolutely love reading and now the idea of reading seems so boring and time consuming. yet i spend hours on my phone looking at useless knowledge or watching tv. i don’t have friends that read either which i think contributes a small amount to the problem but i also didn’t have friends that read before either. how do i change this? i want to go back to reading weekly because i really enjoyed it. i miss writing too but i think all the writing i did in college made me not enjoy it anymore. idk, i’m just sad about it. i just can’t seem to pick up a book anymore

137 comments
92% Upvoted
level 1

I find that a lot of times the idea of something sounds horrible, but once I actually start doing the thing, I enjoy it and feel better. I also have depression and have learned that things like art, reading, going for a walk with my dog- usually don't sound enjoyable but I enjoy them once I force myself to start.

Still- my enjoyment of things ebbs and flows and to be honest, things get worse when I try to figure out why or focus too hard on it. Like, why is it that I don't want to paint anymore? Why can't I enjoy it? What's wrong with me? That just creates unnecessary anxiety, which is not helpful.

Instead of spiraling out, just trust that your enjoyment of reading will come back. Try to read when you can, if you don't enjoy it, no worries. Try again later.

130
level 2

I deal with depression and feel this 100%. Just starting is great advice. I definitely find myself get stuck "window shopping" activities and never actually starting anything. And then I sit and wonder why my "window shopping" didn't inspire me to do something. Depression is tough. You can't seek motivation from your mind. Just got to start and see where it goes. Hope the passion comes back for you. :)

33
level 2

Really love this comment. A quote from a pro runner and filmmaker that has stuck with me as of late is "actions change first, then thoughts, then feelings." So I often try to just START something even if I don't feel like it or even have anxiety/dislike towards it. Once you're in it, your thoughts about that thing develop and finally your feeling change about it as well.

6
level 2

It is awful ... I think this comment helps me to get back to track

1
level 1

This is normal! “Ruined” is a strong word but yeah. I knew someone who took a course about history in video games. Loved video games, was so excited. But “finish this game by Thursday” made the hobby feel like work, and she came to hate playing video games for a bit.

Read an article about this with readibg. Often people rediscover reading for pleasure five or six years after graduation. Young parents get back into it as they read books to toddlers. Your situation is pretty common. It will be ok

44
level 1
· 9 mo. ago · edited 9 mo. ago

It's likely that you're just tired from college. It's possible that you might've felt the same way even if you studied a different career.

It's a fairly normal feeling, but I'd say wait a while and see if your motivation comes back.

You could also shorten your Internet usage. Maybe try to pick up a new hobby (i.e. sports, art, music, etcetera) and try to stop yourself from using electronic devices as much as you do now. That could motivate you to read more.

87
level 1

I’ve been there. I’d say either: go to a library or bookstore (if you can afford it) and just let your curiosity lead you, or just return to a book or story you know you love.

62
level 2

In high school, I wanted to be a poet and I started buying lots of poetry books from Barnes and Noble. I’d read a few pages and set it down and go buy more.

I had a literal book buying addiction as I had lots of disposable income from my job after school.

I amassed quite a collection of books and headed off to college, fully intending to read all of them.

Life happened, I dropped out of college junior year, worked in fast food, developed depression, and yeah. I still read every once in a blue moon but it’s always a reread, never a new book.

At some point I had to sell like 3/4s of my book collection but I still have 2 shelves full of books that haven’t been read.

I’m 31 and while I’d love to pick them up to read I always feel like I don’t have time to commit to a new book. Or I just don’t have the energy after work.

12
level 1

I had this experience out of college. Studied creative writing and loved to read but felt totally burnt out. I kept trying to force myself, but I started to feel guilty about it. Take a breather. Give yourself space for a wee break. I wish someone told me that it was okay to take a break from my biggest passion and that it didn’t make me less of a poet or an intellectual if I took a break from reading. It’s okay to read some “mind candy” to ease back into that habit of reading, such as graphic novels, books already read, or even something a bit childish. This approach is already helping me read again after a long break, I also have been reading books on my phone to prevent the void of endless scrolling. Good luck :)

17
level 1

YO. I'm six years out from my english literature degree. I was reading big big books and esoteric essays , every day. I was trying to read every book on 'the greats' lists and also the essays and books written about those books. It gets super super exhausting.

Now. 1. I don't care if I read something that is impressive. Like I pick up books if I think they will be fun more than 'important.'

2. My reading habits have shifted. I have a life. I can't read a book per week. But what I can do is read a bit everyday. Or make time on weekends to really sit with a book I'm digging.

tl;dr take the pressure off and find a page turner that makes you love reading.

46
level 1

Try audio books while walking/hiking. So healthy for mind and body to get in movement, i hate sitting too much, i feel so much more alert when walking. That helps me get through so many more books

14
level 1
· 9 mo. ago · edited 9 mo. ago

Just have to find right book. It’ll reignite the spark.

Books I read recently that I spent every waking moment needing to finish them.

Mulligan Stew by Gilbert Sorrentino. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. The Magic Christian by Terry Southern. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing.

Also don’t read in same room as phone. You/we can’t defeat the algorithm.

13
level 1
[deleted]
· 9 mo. ago

I’ve never truly recovered from the same issue and jobs spent entirely in front of a computer and on the internet have further numbed my mind. Every once in a while I find a book I can dive into, non-fiction mostly. After getting my MA, the world of fiction has almost completely lost its appeal to me. That’s why I joined this group. Through recommendation posts, reading prompts and questions I once used to enjoy asking myself, I hope to rediscover my former enthusiasm. Listening to audiobooks just isn’t the same for me, but it’s a tool I use to train my patience to follow complex stories again. As much as I like good TV, it just doesn’t compare to the complexity and beauty of the written word enjoyed at my own pace and with pictures of my own imagination.

8
level 1

This exact thing happened to me when I finished my English degree back in 1999. I got so annoyed every time I tried to pick up a book. It was almost a year before I could read for my own pleasure. It sounds weird but Harry Potter was what got me back into reading again. It was light and fun. The books were quick and didn't require any analysis. I could just enjoy them. I highly recommend looking for something simple (maybe YA Lit, maybe something like that) and engaging.

As a side note, I am also experiencing the same difficulty reading right now. I can't follow the story because I can't focus right now. I believe it is the pandemic and other life stressors. It worries me, but I keep trying to tell myself it's okay. Short stories/articles seem to help, but really I am just trying to give myself some grace. It's okay to occupy your time in other ways. This is only a temporary setback, and you are not alone.

8
level 1

Whenever I get to a point where I can't read, but I know I do really want to, I do three things. First, I reread a book I absolutely love. I have a few go-to books that I will read every few years. It's low stakes, I know I'm going to enjoy it, and it's easy to keep up a good pace because I have a basic level of understanding about it already. Second, I read something I am actually interested in. No reading something because it's supposed to be good, or something that has been on my list for a while, but a book that in the moment I am sincerely curious about/is engaging. And third, I give myself permission to stop reading if the second thing turns out not to be true. I have two lists on goodreads that help me with this, one is "paused for now" which is for books that I know I will want to read at some point, or "abandoned" which is for books I know I'll never want to finish. It lowers the pressure on me to force myself into something I'm not enjoying. That was a new step last year that helped me hit my reading goal!

6
level 1

I was also a former big reader-turned-English major and struggle to read now. I think part of the problem is that we've been trained for so long (even in grade school and high school) to "work" as we read, and the stakes got even higher during college. Now, it's very hard to turn off the "work" aspect of reading and just enjoy it: hence why every book feels like a chore.

I've found some success in switching my focus to nonfiction (no "literature reading" work to do there. Plus I like learning as I read.) I've also started picking up more manga, which is a welcome break from the literature routine.

As for the writing, I also write; I don't have big, burning IDEAS all the time, but I do put in reps almost daily on something fluffy and low-stakes. It could be anything. It's never published, never GOING to be published, but it's a challenge to myself to work on plot, characterization, etc. Then when I do have a big idea, I'm primed and ready to go from the start: no dust to shake off. It doesn't have to be long, maybe 30 minutes a day, but it will help keep the creative gears going in the background.

6
level 1

I don't know if this is pertinent to your situation or not, but on the off chance that it is, I just want to say that depression, anxiety, and general ennui are real. I felt incredibly burned out after college, and found it hard to write and read when not at the mercy of a deadline.

Do you have any hobbies? I joined a band after college. When I'm beating my head against the wall trying to write a song, I put my guitar down and write. Failing that, I draw. Failing that, I read a novel or watch a classic film. As a very last ditch effort,, I'll watch TV or play video games.

The intellect is a muscle; it requires upkeep and exercise. As long as the creative muscle is being exercised you only stand to gain, and it helps to do it in a way that doesn't make you feel pressured to excel. Art is ultimately about growing as a person, expanding your philosophical framework, and nourishing the soul. To paraphrase Didion, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Feel free to DM me.

4
level 1

I think one book a week is a lot. I know there are voracious, fast readers who do that, and more, but I've been a lifelong reader, as well as a lit major, BA and MA, and I've never read for pleasure that quickly. Now I read a chapter or two a night of a novel that draws me in, then fall happily asleep, no pressure to read more or read faster. I love to get lost in a novel like A Suitable Boy or the Deptford Trilogy, 1000 pg. monsters, which in my case can take months to finish. It's immersive, and I look forward to reading a segment every night. PS, My education, the pressure to read multiple texts, didn't really burn me out so much as inspire me to wait for the day when I could just read what I wanted to at my own pace. Since then it's been decades--in two different centuries!--of happy reading. You'll get there! (PPS. Your training in lit will guide you to the good stuff. No need to read what's current. Choose what's stood the test of time, that's where your education will guide you.)

4
level 1

It's ok to take a break. The book that helped me get through something similar after my Eng degree was AS Byatt's Possession for some reason.

3
level 1

As many have made note of, finding the right books, setting a basic reading goal, and having a reading plan works wonders. Bookclubs (online, offline, strangers, friends, family) are even better motivation.

I recently started using Good Reads to track what I want to read (makes me more excited for what is to come and push through those books I might be struggling with), what I have read (I can see what I have finished and sense the progress) and what I am currently reading. Having a plan, a way to research, read reviews, find recommendations, and track reading, plus setting a yearly goal on Good Reads has helped me focus this year.

4
level 1

Try reading some fun, light stuff (at least, not literary fiction-types). Lowering the stakes, so to speak, on what you’re reading might make it easier to jump back in. I read sci-fi when I need a break from “analytical” reading. It should be enjoyable, not work.

4
level 1

Read something different maybe? A decade after my MA in literature I read far more non-fiction than fiction now. My degrees burned me out on fiction for a good while. Also I probably wouldn’t read if it wasn’t a habit. I do it before bed. Don’t often have the itch to read outside of my habitual hours though.

Recently I joined a reading group. That gives me some deadlines to get chapters done by. That reading I’ll actually do at non bedtime hours. Assigned reading probably would have sounded too much like work right after my degrees, but this group usually takes things slower than school ever did.

3
level 1

English Major here. Had the same experience. I coped by taking a strict "don't finish books you don't want to finish" and "read whatever you want, even if it's not impressive/classic" to make reading stop feeling like homework.

That meant that for a while, I didn't finish a lot of books. I also ended up reading a lot of YA fiction and regency romance, because it was easy and quick and drew me in. And it didn't require much of me intellectually.

Now, 5 years post graduation, I feel like in the past 2-3 years I've finally been able to start enjoying making reading goals again (i.e. tackling some "classics" or other books I perceive as more challenging).

Give yourself some time off. I bet that your love for books will come back. It did for me! Once the mood starts to return, consider returning to an old, easy favorite. Your love for books will return, just have patience and use this time to explore other interests.

edit: typo

3

About Community

Welcome to /r/literature, a community for deeper discussions of plays, poetry, short stories, and novels. Discussions of literary criticism, literary history, literary theory, and critical theory are also welcome. Book recommendations and homework help are off topic for this subreddit.
Created Apr 1, 2008

1.9m

Members

95

Online

Top 1%

Ranked by Size