Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Is Reading Entertainment?

Laying in bed the other night, I put down my phone and told my fiance "Okay, I better be productive and read a book."

And he said, "That's not productive; that's entertainment."

And I was totally surprised that he thought that.

And then I was surprised that I was surprised.

Because of course reading is entertainment. Millions of readers all around the world read because they enjoy it. It's a hobby. It's FUN. That's what we believe and tell kids and grownups all day, every day at the library, right?

But the truth is that it sometimes feels like work for librarians.

Sometimes it legitimately is work; if you're serving on a committee, for instance, or if you're prepping for booktalks or if you're reviewing for professional journals. It might be fun work, but it's still work.

But what to do when all reading has started to kinda feel like work? What to do when you're surprised that reading is supposed to be fun?

It's not that I'm not picking up books I enjoy. But somewhere along the way, I've been more focused on hitting (and exceeding) my GoodReads goal. I've been obsessed with my ever-towering mountain of to-be-read books. I've been reading because it feels like an accomplishment to finish a book and mark it down. This is especially true if it's a library book because then I can return it back to the library.

Donalyn Miller had a really great post recently about those times when we take a break from reading or from writing. It got me thinking. Maybe I'm still in Committee Mode after serving on the Newbery Committee last year. I don't remember what a normal reading life is supposed to look like. I read a bunch on my recent Readcation, but I also kind of stressed out about it, which was not very conducive to, y'know, vacationing.

And when I think about other ways I like to relax - watching TV, playing games, taking walks and talking with friends - I never feel like I want to do those activities so I can "be productive" and finish something and mark it down. Not the way I do with reading.

So, I'm going to strive for more balance, and that may mean less reading. But I'm going to strive to be more thoughtful about what I'm reading and why.

Because reading should be entertainment. It should be fun, at least some of the time. Otherwise, what are we doing this librarian thing for?

Do YOU ever feel this way? How do you keep reading fun instead of allowing it to just become part of your job?