Monday, 25 May 2020

I Didn't Complete the Readathon and That's Okay

Hi everyone! I hope you've all had an excellent bank holiday weekend :) It's just been the same old weekend as always for me, but I know many of you are very glad to have a break from work. I'd love to hear all about how you spent your bank holiday (despite lockdown making our days pretty uneventful, or mine at least!). 

So as you guys can tell from the title, today I'm writing a follow up to the last few bookish posts I shared on my blog. They were all about a readathon I was taking part in, and well... I didn't end up completing it! Oops :D But instead of beating myself up about it, I thought I'd share my thoughts about how I am looking at this positively. Enjoy reading! 

In case you haven't read my previous posts about the reading challenge, let me tell you all about it. It's a readathon that you can join in all year round, so if you're feeling inspired or looking for something to keep you busy during the current quarantine situation (don't listen to the government, you should still be staying indoors, if you can help it!), then definitely do the EstellosaurusReads 3 week, 4 book readathon! The reading challenge was set up by my amazing friend Estelle, over on her booktube, aka. book-themed YouTube channel. Go give EstellosaurusReads a follow! The rules of the challenge, as the name suggests, involve reading four books over a three week period, one from each of the following categories: a historical fiction, a non-fiction, a re-read & a book about the apocalypse (which is very fitting right now!). If you have read a book from one of these categories before and decide to give it another read, then you could tick off both for example, the non-fiction and the re-read books together, if that makes sense :) I however wanted to challenge myself to read more, because I was so behind on the Good Reads challenge I set myself for 2020!

A photo showing a shelf of books, with an owl plush, a funko pop of Gimli and a Lego fairy

So, what happened? 

Like with most of these kinds of things I decide to partake in, I always begin really determined and motivated. I get off to a great start and am very hyped about the challenge, but then eventually, life gets in the way and my enthusiasm ends up dwindling. It doesn't matter how much I love whatever I am trying to do, it's a struggle for me to keep it up. And this is most attributed to the fact that I live with several chronic illnesses, which mean my daily experience changes and whereas one day I can feel energised and ready to throw all my attention at something, the next day I can wake up feeling dejected, riddled with pain and it's a struggle to pull myself through the day. Who can relate? When it comes to my love for reading, don't get me wrong, it is a passion of mine; I love books! I adore getting lost between the pages, and many a difficult day throughout my life has been spent ignoring the outside world and getting drawn into a captivating story. Unfortunately, sometimes this just isn't possible. I just can't muster the mental strength it takes to pick up a book I'm supposed to be reading, and even if I do manage it, my concentration will often be almost non-existent and the intrusive thoughts I suffer from can mean that I can't detach myself from the negativity, and therefore I cannot get engrossed in the words on the page. 

Right now, so many of us are feeling crappy. And to be honest, I didn't expect to feel the way I do, considering I'm introverted and I have social anxiety, so staying at home is usually my happy place. Even when I'm looking forward to something, it's a challenge for me to fight the urge to cancel plans last-minute. But, I have started to feel trapped. I guess that it's different when you are forced to stay home VS getting to make that decision yourself (even if it can feel like your anxious wreck of a brain is usually the one making the decisions for you). It's tough enough being drained of energy due to my chronic illnesses, but then there's all this piled on top of that. Basically, it's tough af to get things done at the moment, and I'm sure lots of you will be in the same boat! 

Thus, I have been really up and down with my reading, and this all began practically as soon as I started the readathon. I re-read a favourite children's classic of mine, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. You can check my review here, if you're interested. Everything was going well. Then I started the non-fiction, and had opted for a topic that I don't usually read because I wanted to really challenge myself and learn something new in the process, however in hindsight, I shouldn't have done that whilst taking part in a challenge because I know my ways! I really couldn't get into it, and although there were some interesting parts, I was finding that I didn't want to pick up the book and it became a chore. 

A photo showing a selection of novels: a little princess, the handmaid's tale, jane eyre, alias grace, vox

I started to get irritated at myself and this didn't help either. I was irritated that I wasn't compelled to finish the book, and then the annoyance was making it even more difficult for me to do it. Living with mental illness really is like walking around with a storm cloud hoovering above your head sometimes! I found that I would get negative feelings about myself every time I thought about the book. By the time I finally convinced myself that I wasn't giving up and could come back to the non-fiction book, I didn't have much time left... 

I started reading Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, for the historical fiction category, and I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted to be reading. It consumed my mind in the way that you want a book to, or I do anyway! I want to be thinking about the book after I put it down, find myself throughout the day puzzling over questions and theories I have developed, and struggle to put the book down to get boring adulting stuff done. But this novel is a good size and so it got to the end of my three weeks and I hadn't completed the challenge. With this came more negative thoughts, and that ruined my reading experience for a while. Oh, the joys of an overcritical mind! 

Last week, after giving myself a much needed rest, I picked up the book where I'd left off and all was great again! I've finished it now, and I very much enjoyed it :) Although I have my opinions, both positive and not, but this isn't a review post, haha. Since then, I have felt very motivated to read. I am almost finished with another book, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and oh my gosh, I'm obsessed!! Next, I will be FINALLY be reading Christina Dalcher's Vox :D So, in my opinion, the challenge has had a positive outcome. And even though I didn't complete it, as a result of taking part, I have been able to make additions to my Good Reads challenge and have had new stories brought into my life. Now, I don't want to stop reading! I am even now looking over at The Neverending Story with hungry eyes :D 

A photo showing a shelf filled with books, and also two figures, a fairy and Gimli from Lord of the Rings, and an owl plush toy

Something that I really like about Estelle's readathon is that I can have another go at any time! And so, I am planning on trying again later in the year, maybe when things are much improved with regards to the pandemic, or when I've gotten used to things! With the way the people in charge of running my country are going, I feel like it's only going to get worse, but let's not get into that... And this time around, I'm going to stick to a non-fiction topic that I know I will enjoy, like nature or psychology. I might try to go back to the book that initiated a case of readers-block in me at some point, now that there's no time constraint looming in the back of my mind. Even if I only read a page a day! It's not THAT boring, but I have discovered that a close look into the ins and outs of life as a barrister in the UK is not my thing. Although, at least I've added to my bank of random knowledge to pull out during a pub quiz! You never know when you might require a snippet of seemingly unimportant knowledge. haha. 

Anyhow, all in all, I enjoyed that the challenge lead me to read A Little Princess again, since I'd not read it for close to eight years and it was interesting to look at the book after having gone though some more life experience. It's always fascinating to see how you'll interpret a text in a future read, and discover how much your tastes or thoughts around a particular subject may have changed over time. It was a lovely nostalgic read and it got my imagination cogs turning, so to speak, which is always fun! As I said, I have been reading more over the last two weeks and that is also thanks to the readathon. So even if you don't complete a task that you start, especially if it's a challenge, then all was not in vain. You can still get something out an experience that you tried, even if that's just knowing what not to do again :)

I'll stop typing away now because Bastian, Atreyu and the Childlike Empress are calling me, and I have a mighty need to get lost in their adventure once more! This was a very wordy, chatty, whatever you'd call it type of post but I hope that it was still an interesting read, nonetheless. I hope that if you take anything away from it, that it's a reminder to not put yourself down for trying. It can take a lot to have a go at something, and we all have things going on in our lives that can interrupt our plans, but that's okay (albeit frustrating). Be kind of yourselves!

Thankyou for reading!

Have you been reading lately? 
Got any recommendations (or suggestions of books to avoid)? 

I'm also interested to know whether you just enjoy reading posts like this? 


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