It must be one of the scariest feelings in the world to suddenly grow tired of the one thing you love the most. To some extent, however, I can understand how this may happen-after all, it’s amazing that I haven’t yet tossed aside all of things that occupy my life on a daily basis. What if one day, my love for peanut butter, hummus, and honey mustard (separately, not together) cease? Further, as much as I love Pinterest, sometimes I feel as though I’ve had enough. I’m never going to acquire all of these dresses, or bake every recipe that mentions the word “pumpkin.” Freshman year, I told my roommate/best friend/source of infinite wisdom that I would eventually get sick of her-although I was joking (or was I?), I can’t help but wonder about the nature of our relationships, with people and things, and how we determine what gets to assume permanence in our lives.
A post I read recently on Bustle.com prompted all of this thinking, as it addressed the one fear I’ve been afraid to admit: becoming sick of reading. The post, written by Molly Labell, is titled, “I’m Sick of Reading. There, I said it.” I didn’t hesitate to click the link and find out what this girl had to say. Turns out, she provided a comedic, refreshing, and honest account about the occasional downsides of consuming so much literature. As a student constantly surrounded by book-loving English majors and professors alike, I haven’t been exposed to such a perspective before. Labell is a book reviewer, and she describes herself as a “lifelong reader”-she studied English in college, and reading has always been her favorite pastime. Labell describes a moment when she is bored and has some free time, yet, she can’t bring herself to read a book for fun.
“It’s happened, the thing I never thought could happen: I’m a little sick of reading,” Labell wrote. “I’m sick of prologues and introductions and figuring out the difference between the two. I’m sick of characters tilting their heads to the sky.” Finally, someone isn’t afraid to admit it. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I do find value in literary analysis, and I think it’s possible to come to a book with new and fresh readings every time, even if it’s been passed through a million eyes before mine. But sometimes, it’s exhausting.
As a student who is usually reading three novels at once, along with textbook readings for my non-English classes, I’m not usually inclined to pick up a book from my “read for fun” pile if I happen to have a rare moment of down time. Part of me feels guilty-after all, I’m supposed to love reading enough to want to make a career out of it, so why would I turn down a book? I always imagined myself potentially working for a publishing company and translating my favorite activity into an actual career, but what if my love gets diminished? Labell lists the many reasons that she loves what she does, and how some of her favorite people and places are found in books, but she makes a good point-“when you read books for a living, they’re no longer your friends: they’re your colleagues.” This point stuck with me, mainly because I felt taken aback. I’d say that books can be some of my best friends, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to sacrifice that friendship for the sake of a career.
Labell gives a sense of hope at the end of her post, however, with a brief anecdote about Toni Morrison. After reading eight of her books for a semester, she abandoned the author for a while, but recently revisited one of her novels and found herself more invested the second time. What Labell helped me realize is that maybe we don’t always need to have constant devotion to the things we love. A relationship with a passion, career, or even a hobby can benefit from taking breaks, getting sick of each other, and ignoring each other for a while. Sometimes I get sick of writing, and I get defeated when I sit down to write this column without any new ideas. Luckily, all it takes is one person’s story or an issue on campus to reignite my enthusiasm and remind me of all the reasons that I love what I do. As Labell explained, sometimes the activity we do for fun can seem more like a vocation than a vacation. But, I wouldn’t give up on that relationship just yet-a little time and patience can make all the difference between breaking up for good, and coming back stronger than ever before.