On Reading

I don’t read much anymore.

I used to read a lot. A book a week, at times, and definitely several a month. Much of my childhood was given over to reading. It actually got to the point where my mom would insist I do something else. Even if it was just to go outside and read for once rather than staying in all day. This continued well into high school, college, and a bit beyond.

I’m down to only a few books a year now, and those often with great effort. It had been fading for a long time now. It’s hard to pinpoint when. I’ve occasionally pondered what happened to my great love of written story.

Part of it I blame on my intense desire to learn writing as an analytical process. Something to be dissected and formulated like math, programming, engineering – the things I excel at enough to live off of them. I thought that maybe if I could turn that same skill into creative writing, I could maybe make a life from expression like I really want.

Instead, I found the analytical pathways intruding on everything I enjoyed in stories. I can barely read or watch anything without a needling part of my brain rating it on pacing, dialogue, and a dozen other factors. And many cases I find the same conclusions over and over, regardless of medium or creator.

Stories are predictable. We all know this. We tell the same things over and over again. Somehow I’ve overly internalized that predictability, though, and it has changed from a feeling of comfort and familiarity into simple ennui. The stories I do catch on need some unique hook, something I haven’t seen before, some little twist that I can at least look on and say “Aha! There’s something new.”

It’s increasingly difficult to find that. Maybe that’s why I’ve stopped looking.