When I was a child, nobody ever said this to me. “Must be nice having time to read.” Even though I read all the time indoors and out. Walking into telephone polls along the way. Reading was and is my escape. Taking me away from my day-to-day into new worlds.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that people started saying, “Must be nice having time to read.” Often with a slacker insinuation undertone. Or hint of resentment that I have free time when they’re super busy. I brush it off. It’s not worth the effort to explain reading is my escape from invisible conditions like chronic pain, fatigue, tinnitus, and insomnia. Anxiety and bouts of depression.
When I can’t be active as much as I’d like, at least I’ve got The Silence of the Lambs or Silent Fear to take my mind off things. When I can’t sleep, quietly reading The Gaugain Connection doesn’t wake anybody else up. When I’m worried or sad, I can visit Hobbiton, Manderley, or Winterfell. Check in with my favourite characters like Caelena Sardothien or Danny Torrance.
Then I found Goodreads. I was so excited to find a gathering place for readers. With reading contests like yearly reading challenges or page challenges like people tracking if they can read a million pages. Goodreads calculates the number of pages in each book you’ve read. Finally, all the reading I do can count towards something positive in my life.
This year I did the 2018 Reading Challenge, setting a goal of reading 60 books. I’m also doing the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge. This one sets 50 specific books to find and read. For example, a book with twins, a book written in the year I was born, or books with an LGBTQ protagonist.
My PopSugar picks counted for both challenges, so that helped me complete my 2018 Reading Challenge goal. I was really happy about it until somebody on Goodreads messaged me.
“Congratulations on finishing. Must be nice having time to read.”
Seriously? On Goodreads where reading is usually celebrated?
I don’t know this person who sucked the joy out of my reading. But having time to read is a double-edged sword. Because the reason I have free time is from limited energy and mobility. I need hobbies I can do while sitting or lying down. Hobbies that help lift my spirits. Reading is my favourite choice. If I’m not reading, I’m dungeoned deep in a very dark place.
I don’t know if I can finish the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge. My anxiety is spiking over too many books left to read with time slowly ticking away. I’ll give it my best shot.
If I do manage to finish and somebody on Goodreads repeats that dreaded phrase, I’m thinking up options.
- “Yes it IS nice having time to read.”
- “Cut the passive aggressive BS. It’s considered bad form in reader society.”
- I can imagine them going out to dinner with Dr. Lecter. With them being the main dish.
- Even better, I can write them into a story where things do not bode well for them.
Unfortunately, none of these options take the sting away completely.
I don’t tell them it’s because I have chronic conditions. That just leads to unsolicited suggestions on how I can cure myself. And I hate that even worse.
Image by Mysticsartdesign at pixabay
Jan L. Mayes
Author, audiologist, educator, quiet activist, playing with words.