Photo by Hatice Yardım on Unsplash

I was one of those bookworms who would boast about finishing a book a week.

Then Covid hit.

With the uncertainty and anxiety that followed Covid, all my routines and habits went out the window. My attention span was reduced to zero. And there were a couple of months where I didn't finish a single book.

But I am glad this situation happened to me.

Author Paulo Coelho once wrote an essay called "Of Poles and Rules."

In it, he spoke about how he came to know about Nordic Walking, where people walk using poles to support, balance and enhance their walk. Upon trying it himself, Coelho was impressed and went on the internet to learn more about it. He found pages and pages of discussions and rules one must follow to do Nordic walking correctly.

He realised that he was doing it all wrong!

The next day he followed the rules experts told him to follow to ensure he was doing it right.

After a week of doing so, he realised that he was not enjoying his walks anymore. He was so busy thinking if he was doing everything correctly that he missed out on enjoying the walks.

In his own words,

"... because of the rules, I had stopped concentrating on the things I liked and was more concerned about losing calories, moving my muscles and using a certain section of the spine."

This is the same fate my hobby of Reading suffered.

Reading has always been a leisurely activity for me. But with all the tips and tricks to increase my reading capacity, the opposite happened. In trying to force myself to finish a book in a week, I lost the joy of Reading. Unconsciously, not completing a book in a week or 52 books a year made me feel I was doing Reading all wrong.

I let the rules and opinions of others take control of my reading habit.

And that, my friend, is not a good idea.

Reading a book is not an item on my to-do list that I can check out. It is a pleasure I enjoy when I am done living my life for the day.

Now I understand that it doesn't matter how many books I read in a week, month or year. I don't even care if I reach my Goodreads goal - something I took seriously in the past.

What's important is that I enjoy my time with a book. That I immerse myself in it and come out wiser than before.

If that disappoints the reading police, then I can't help it.

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