The chemotherapy-induced neuropathy in my hands has forced me to make a lot of changes. I love cooking and baking, doing arts and crafts, and playing video games, but I haven’t been able to do those things since my first treatment. To keep myself busy, I’ve had to fill my time with some of my older hobbies that I haven’t made as much time for over the past few years. Mostly, I’ve been reading.
Right now, reading is exactly what I need. I’ve been avoiding physical books because they’re hard for me to hang on to, but my iPad mini and Kindle are easy on my hands. Books are also a great value for entertainment media: even if I’ve spent a bit more than what I should on them recently it’s pretty tough to get yourself into financial trouble by buying books, especially since I’m a fairly slow reader. Even better for my budget right now is the fact that I’m able to borrow free ebooks from the library. It’s a little tough to wait for the numerous holds on popular titles, but easy and free are worth it.
As I said above, I haven’t spent a lot of time reading books over the past few years. I’m currently on track to read 7 books in April which is, on average, a little more than I’ve read per year since I graduated university. This has definitely been a source of embarrassment. I’ve always seen myself as a reader and for most of my youth, reading was my main hobby. As I got older, I slowly found myself reading published books for fun less often. I think there were several reasons for this. Mostly, I struggled with finding my identity as an adult reader. With world of books being so enormous, I had trouble finding well-written, contemporary fiction that suited my taste and I didn’t always enjoy slogging through well-known classics. I would stick with one or two authors for awhile and then have no idea where to go when I had read all of their work that interested me.
University also took a lot of the fun out of reading. As a history major I would often have upwards of 600 pages of reading (or more, especially if it was time for term papers) per week. It wasn’t fun, easy reading: so much academic writing is dry and boring and remarkably difficult to slog through, even if the subject matter is interesting. The last thing I wanted to do with my free time was read more, even if reading fiction was more fun than reading academic non-fiction.
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I started my long and strange journey of being intentionally single and trying new things. I started playing video games. Video games led me down a path toward a lot of new (to me) media, like manga and anime. For a good while, I wanted to immerse myself in those new interests and give myself the time to enjoy them. This didn’t leave me with a lot of room for reading published books (though I did read lots of fanfiction, but that’s another story for another day). It’s hard for me to admit it, but books just sat on the back burner for awhile.
Being absorbed in reading again has been wonderful, like settling in for a lovely afternoon with an old friend. The ONTD reading challenge that I decided to participate in has been especially fantastic. I have the freedom to choose any book that fits each month’s theme, but I’m also forced to try out authors and genres that I normally wouldn’t consider reading on my own. Best of all, the participants all make loads of recommendations each month, which has helped me make some fun new discoveries!
In some ways, one of my greatest struggles as an adult has been balancing my free time. There are so many different activities that bring me joy that I often have trouble choosing what I should do on any given day. I hope that once my condition improves and I return to work that I’ll be able to make room in my life to continue reading. I won’t have as much time as I do now, but I’ve realized that it’s a hobby I should keep up with. I certainly have enough recommendations to keep me going for a good long while!
Are there any interests or hobbies that you aren’t making enough time for? What books are you reading right now? Let me know in the comments!