Books and Reading

The Great Reading Slump of 2018/2019


So here’s a sobering thought: in the year 2018, I read a grand total of 15 books.

Yes, you read that right. 15 books. It’s a number so astonishingly low you would be forgiven for thinking that I in fact died in February of the previous year, and have spent the remaining time haunting the library and bewailing the fact that when I try to pick up a book now it just passes right through me, which incidentally is the feeling I get whenever I try to muster the enthusiasm to finally read Ulysses.

Did I only read 15 books in 2018 because I was making my way through a list of the longest books in all of history?

Was I abducted by aliens and my brain so scrambled that I forgot how to read and also the entirety of the English language?

Did I take a cruise on a ship and end up tragically moored on a desert island, finally able to test out the thesis that my desert island book would be Pride and Prejudice?

Pick whichever explanation you’d like, because the truth is disappointingly mundane and predictable, almost as mundane as the predictability of my back-from-the-dead posts on this blog, of which there have been… many.

The truth is, working two jobs is exhausting. And unfortunately most literature majors who suffer from the kind of obsession with purchasing patterned cardigans that I do need to work two jobs. Luckily, in 2019 I tried to cut down on the cardigans, and hopefully on those big projects that appear out of nowhere and always at the very last second (working as a freelance translator is such fun!).


So there you have it – when your second job involves countless hours staring at the written word, you feel very little motivation to do it in the very limited free time that remains.

I wish I could say that those 15 books were chosen wisely… that I managed to tick off at least one book from my TBR self. But of those books 7 were re-reads, comfort books consisting almost entirely of Jane Austen and Terry Pratchett, which would have been fine if there were a larger proportion of new books to add to that list. If it weren’t for a much-needed two-week vacation in December I doubt I’d have read 8 new books in 2018, to be honest. Truthfully, my concern about the 15 books is less about the quantity and more about the quality.

There was only really one highlight: Sapiens, the book about the history of human civilisations, which was fascinating and which I felt absolutely zero motivation to review because when you work 13 hours a day your brain basically turns to soup. Soup is not great at producing intelligent book reviews.


Yeah, I’m a little disappointed in myself. But I also realised that in all the madness I’d lost the joy I used to find in reading anyway. So I kicked off 2019 with parallel readings: one re-read (Harry Potter and Jane Austen mostly) to remind me how much I loved reading to begin with, and one new book. In the end, 2019 was a little bit better: I read an even 30, which while still being lower than my average, was a significant improvement on 2018. But hey: I figure there’s always space for a little self-improvement when a new decade rolls round. Maybe 2020 will be even better?

So, in conclusion:

1. I’m not dead. Sorry to everyone who was worried, and to everybody who’s disappointed to discover I’m alive, I say: Nobody’s more surprised than me, buddy.

2. Don’t ever, ever, work 13-15 hours a day. Because, as I mentioned above, soup.

3. Reading 15 books a year is not great, but it’s better than reading 0 books a year.

4. Keeping a detailed record of every book you ever read is wonderful, but it can backfire when you look back to discover that almost the most intelligent book you read in 2018 was entitled The Summer I Became a Nerd. Oh yeah.

Thanks for suffering through another of my back-from-the-dead posts, Dear Readers; I’d love to promise that it will be the last, but I’m too cynical about my own habits to imagine that’s a legitimate possibility. So instead I’ll just thank you again for sticking with this blog even after two years of inactivity.

And to make myself feel better, here are some questions for you:

Am I the only person who’s ever had such a sad reading slump?

What’s the lowest number of books you’ve ever read in a year?

4 replies on “The Great Reading Slump of 2018/2019”

I’m so glad to see you back!

Wow, I read 12 books in 2018 too and 25 in 2019. I am reading less — sadly, like you, work is encroaching on my reading time — but when I read, I’m definitely reading more complex books and more in-depth. So I’m not too bummed out, at least with last year.

I hope you get back on track! Keep plugging along!

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