Pushing Through a Reading Dry Spell

In the final months of my undergrad, I was dying for the freedom to read whatever I wanted. I dreamt of a day when I would go back to all those books that had been collecting dust for years, waiting for when I had the brain space to read them. At the time, it seemed like the only thing missing that would allow me to fully dive back into reading was free time.

Well, I have free time now. So what have I been reading?

Not much.

I’ve been able to delve into some nonfiction books. I’ve really been digging Come As You Are over the last couple weeks. I listened to a good portion of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up before 428374928 different life things got in the way. I was also really enjoying What Your Clutter is Trying to Tell You on my commute to and from work, but my phone battery just isn’t what it used to be. The point is, I never quite seem to finish the books I start. The last book I finished was Turtles All the Way Down (which I reviewed here), which felt like a weird exceptional blip in this reading dry spell I’ve been having.

A huge part of the problem is that I read for a living. I read books as I look for writers to reach out to, and then read those books again as I proofread them. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reading dozens (or potentially even hundreds) of submissions to the writing contest I’m running for work.

When I’m not working, the idea of reading seems entirely unappealing. I’m much more interested in curling up on the couch and watching/yelling at Mad Men or attempting to take over the world in Europa IV for the 574356th time of just sitting quietly on my phone and scrolling through Pinterest. This feels like a moral failing to me, having been an English major and a voracious reader since I was a toddler.

So, what’s a proofreader and webnovel manager to do?

I don’t have a plan in place just yet, but once I start figuring out how to get out of my tech- and work-induced reading funk, y’all will be the first to know.

How do you handle reading dry spells? Any tips for keeping up a reading habit? Leave a comment below!

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Still Overwhelmed

College is hard.

I just wanted to validate that. If college feels difficult and overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. Anyone who brushes you off when you say you’re feeling burnt out by saying something like “You’re young, you can live without sleep!” or “Just wait until you get into the real world!” (as if universities are part of some mysterious “fake world”) is not a person you need to worry about.

I just graduated earlier this year. I was lucky enough to land a full-time position in my field almost immediately, which felt like a miracle. I really enjoy my job and generally feel really lucky.

I am also still recovering the aftershocks of burnout from school.

It’s weird to say that five months after graduation. I feel like I should be at the point where I can relax and enjoy my free time more. I thought by now I’d have more energy to tackle stuff like housecleaning and general life improvement stuff. I thought I’d get to feel like a normal human who wasn’t working 55 hours a week and going to school full-time.

But I’m just not there yet. Which is not to say that I’m not glad to be done or would rather still be in school. I’m grateful to finally be reading for fun and on my own time again. Knowing that I can come home and not have to worry about schoolwork on top of chores is nice. But I still can’t seem to get to the point where my energy levels feel anything like “normal.” Instead I feel like there’s a hundred things that need to get done every day, and if I’m lucky I might have the energy to get one or two done.

I’m not saying this to freak anyone out. I feel like if I’d read a post like this in the months leading up to graduation I wouldn’t have taken this very well. Mostly I just wanted to share my experience because I don’t really have anyone to talk about this kind of stuff with, and I’m sure there’s more than a few recent and soon-to-be grads who are experiencing or about to experience something similar. Most of my friends are still waiting to graduate, and I’m not entirely sure that family members who have gotten their degrees would understand. How do you explain that the thing you’re most passionate about drained you in ways you can’t entirely put into words?

For those of you who are still struggling while you’re in school of just after leaving: it’s not just you. I’m right there with you. We’re gonna get through this.

To Walk Invisible

to walk invisible

Last night, I finally got the chance to finish up To Walk Invisible: The Lives of the Brontë Sisters. It’s a two-episode miniseries put out by Masterpiece and the BBC that mostly focuses on the adult lives of the three Brontë sisters, particularly their relationship with their brother Branwell.

I’m going to say this up front so that I can focus on other things later on: I really loved it. It is extremely rare for me to be able to watch anything without messing with my phone or knitting or whatever. I was absolutely glued to the screen. It was beautiful to look at, and I felt like each actor inhabited their role completely.

That said, I feel like this would be a difficult movie for someone who is not slightly Brontë-obsessed to watch. Had I watched it a year ago, before taking a class on the trio of sisters, I would’ve been pretty lost. Now that I have that semester-long class (which thankfully included lots of biographical information and reading of the Brontës’ juvenilia) under my belt, it felt more like getting to visit old friends. The film spends a decent amount of time on the Brontës as children, particularly the fantasy world of Gondal that they all wrote about as children. The miniseries throws you right into the children’s imaginary world with no explanation, and without knowing that the Brontë kids were adorably creative and made up an entire fictional universe that they used to write stories and poems and use while they played, it’s a confusing place to start. Fortunately, because of the time I spent in my aforementioned class on the Brontës, I knew what was going on, and I felt this intense rush of recognition and joy at seeing the young Brontës.  It’s an important piece of them that makes them feel more real and human to me.

I also felt that the focus on Branwell, the only brother in the Brontë household, was sort of odd. I understood to some degree why he was the center of everything in the series, because he shows up in other forms so often in his sisters’ works. However, it often meant that time was taken away from the sisters and what they were doing. Branwell is an important piece of the puzzle but I would have preferred to hear the sisters discussing him more rather than seeing him slip deeper and deeper into alcoholism and illness.

Also, I had one petty complaint: Patrick Brontë, played by Jonathan Pryce (who is always a joy to watch, just as he was in this film), sounded far too British. I was looking forward to hearing a Reverend Brontë with a thick Irish brogue. Unfortunately, they decided to go a different route and have Pryce sound much as he always does.

Aside from those few things, though, I can’t say enough about the film. When the film began its final scene with the death of Branwell and transitioned to shots of Haworth Parsonage, where the Brontë family lived, as a museum crowded with people excited to see the space that Charlotte and Emily and Anne lived in, I started sobbing. It’s silly, but I just felt so proud that these sisters had made it. Charlotte, of course, was celebrated in her time, but nothing like the kind of veneration the Brontë sisters receive today. Seeing a gift shop filled with books written by and about the three sisters and people who looked like they were from all over the world poring over them was… something. Something good. The shot of the statue that stands at Haworth of the three sisters, and then the transition to the actresses who played them standing out on the moors and looking every bit the happy trio was one of the most moving things I’d ever seen. I felt such a strong sense of how much they’d overcome to be the staples of English literature they are today. It felt like they’d won on my behalf, somehow. They wrote these wonderful books that have become my touchstones, and they cleared the way for female writers and intellectuals like I fancy myself to be.

So, if you’re a diehard Brontë sisters fan, this is definitely a movie you should see. If you like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights or are some mysterious individual who is really into The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (please get in contact if you are, I have lots of questions for you) but haven’t delved deep into the Brontë Mythos, I definitely think it’s still worth watching, even if there’s parts of it that aren’t readily accessible. To Walk Invisible is definitely one of my new favorites.