Maintaining a Healthy Relationship
I lost it. I'll admit it. I completely lost it...my love for pleasure reading seems to be gone. With all the reading responsibilities of an educator and school librarian, it is so easy for us to get caught up in the frenzy of the school year and forget to be a well-rounded person with other interests and personal needs. I've been married for more than two decades, so I understand that all relationships ebb and flow, but can that be true with something as abstract as a relationship with literature? Understanding the ups and downs, I wondered, if research about human relationships would help me regain my appreciation, my affection, my yearning for reading. Successful relationships take work,so began my quest to understand how to maintain a healthy, long-term relationship with literature, and therefore regain my desire to read.
Like any relationship, long-term reading success takes work. Concentrate on taking one day at a time. Make promises to yourself as to when and where and how much time will be dedicated to reading.
While reading was once thought to be a solitary activity, we now understand our need for interaction, validation, communication, and healthy debate. Whether virtually or in person, developing a network of peers to share reading experiences is critical. These can be informal conversations or intentional gatherings. I find I need both in order to sustain a healthy relationship with reading.
- Keep It Interesting
Don't label certain genres as unworthy or unrelatable. One sign of a stale relationship is repeating the same genre or author while ignoring others. We all have our favorites, but ensure there is a range and mix to your reading. Take a risk and sample different genres periodically.
- Honor Reading
Set a routine. Make time spent reading sacred. Sometimes I even set the timer on my smartphone. Until that timer buzzes, I refuse to allow myself to become distracted by family, work, social media, or any other interference.
Try keeping a reading journal. While I read, I keep sticky notes and a pen handy. I especially like to jot down quotes that speak to me (and the corresponding page number or chapter), as well as weird little tidbits that fascinate me. Later, I transcribe my notes into an electronic, searchable format, adding personal thoughts that come to me post reading. Sometimes I use these notes to inspire me or when working with students.
- Be Responsible for Your Own Happiness
Understand that each book is different. The relationship I bring to any book is unique in ways great and small, and I need to embrace that uniqueness in order to grasp the joy that deeply engaged reading brings.
- Technology in Moderation
I found an inordinate amount of my time tied into scrolling through social media and other activities online. The importance of balance became very apparent to me when one of our associate superintendents told me that he stops looking at email at 7pm. Anything after that, he said, could wait until the morning. Wow. If he could do it, so could I. Once I gave myself permission to moderate my screen time, I was able to give myself the gift of reading time.
- Check-In Regularly
Don't wait until there are signs of trouble to work on your relationship with reading. It is easy to set reading aside as a want instead of a need; slowly losing a vital connection to creativity and the ability to visit a world beyond myself.
Just let it go. Making reading another task, job, or responsibility takes away the joy and generates more guilt and pressure.
- Release the Guilt
Bottom line. Taking time to read is not self-indulgent, it is self-sustaining and cathartic. It is important to my mental health and is value added to my life.
Every relationship needs intentional care to survive, including hobbies and how we spend or make free time. There are no guarantees that any relationship, including time spent reading for pleasure, will be sustained unless we are proactive in our love and work through the bumps.
Entry ID: 2180386