How reading has not only changed my year, but also saved my life
Friday, 4 December 2015
Hey guys! Today I thought I'd write up something a bit different to what you would normally see on this blog, and it links quite nicely into my previous discussion posts that I've written. Whilst I know that these posts are in small quantity and are quite sporadically placed, I've been thinking about the past year and just how much I've actually read, especially with the end of the year coming up. It's actually coming up my 1 year anniversary of this blog too on the 29th December, so it ties in quite nicely. I look forward to your celebratory tweets and cake - especially the cake. Now this post is going to be a little close to home and personal the further down you get it, so if you're not a fan of learning about my personal life I totally understand, but I strongly believe it's something I need to get out in the open. Oh and fair warning, the ending gets a bit soppy and thankful. You have been warned.
So, where do I begin? Well, in December 2014, I decided to step up and make myself known in the blogging world. I had attempted to achieve this before, but with little success or enjoyment. Of course, being a regular book blogger suggests that you need to read, either casually or consistently. For me, this two parallels were never quite where I wanted to go with my blog. Casually felt too lazy for me -after all I find myself to be quite active and that reading habit just wasn't for me. Alternatively, reading consistently just wasn't quite me either. Contrary to the belief of my peers, I don't actually have that much free time, despite how much time I spend on Social Media. I see bloggers reading 10+ books a month and whilst that impresses me, it also terrifies me to think that is the level we as bloggers should be aiming for. But should we be aiming that high? After all, we all want to achieve in life but should we be striving to be the best blogger we can be? Yes and no. More on that discussion in a few posts time. For me, this balance was found in simply reading when I could, whilst still being able to have a manageable amount of content for my blog.
A year on and over 65 books read this year so far, I started considering why I had read so much. What impact is it having on my life? Why did I even bother to originally start pressuring myself to read so consistantly? Is it even healthy to be reading this much? Admiring these questions from a distance I have to think back a few years. I used to be a healthy reader when I was younger, and I read for enjoyment as all children should. However, this trait didn't continue through my teens.
Many of you will not know this because I don't advertise it, but I struggled with severe mental health many years back. I couldn't even feel like I could go to my family with it incase I worried them. It's cliche to say, but I literally felt alone. It was really that bad. No person should ever have to go through that. My self confidence really didn't help the situation either. However, the one thing that managed to lighten my mood during those dark days were books. Whilst my family questioned why every summer I would suddenly devour up to 20 books in two weeks and not the rest of the year, I simply passed it off as enjoyment and something to pass the time. Looking deeper into this thought, I realised it wasn't just a way for me to think positively, it broadened my mind to whole new worlds, to new personalities and opinions. It made my world that little bit bigger by simply believing in all of the ideals that were brought about in the pages of my books by these phenomenal authors.
With all of these new outlooks on the world, I pushed myself to be more confident, to ask for help, to accept that it was okay to be different and that my mental health didn't have to define me. I could be stereotypically 'normal.' That is, if I ever wanted to be? After my rebirth as I like to think of it (as corny and cheesy and embarrassing as that sounds) I took to reading casually, to simply lighten my mood and to fill my days with endless amounts of wonder and I wanted to branch out, to extend my passion to others. Sadly, not many of my friends were big readers, they wanted to stay inside and play on their consoles, shooting players to kill in game reenactments of wars gone by. This is when I discovered Tumblr. Tumblr was a place where I could talk to anyone about books, and they didn't ever have to know who I was. It was pure bliss. I got to share my opinions with people, get in debates about who I shipped in books and generally revel in bookish conversation.
Then I realised that I could extend my discussions into book reviews, and that people would actually enjoy reading them and actively respond to my thoughts. Initially, I tried and my blog kind of plummeted. People only seemed to want to reblog photos I had previously reblogged elsewhere and my original content seemed to be getting lost and ignored in the mass of recycled teen garbage. This set me on a track of where I suddenly found myself keeping my opinions to myself, and this apparently seemed to have an odd effect on my schoolwork. My literature teacher would often comment that my writing when discussing texts was very strong and often very self centred around my opinion, and not really accepting that of others. Whilst for my essays this was quite dangerous if I ever wanted to pass, my teacher seemed to be able to understand where I was coming from. I swear to this day that woman was psychic because I never explained about the way in which I wrote, I kind of just accepted it.
December 2014 came around, and I decided I had enough of my failed attempt into blogging. I was going to rebrand myself as someone who read often enough to keep his followers updated, someone who was going to interact and engage more, and someone who was going to attempt to make friends with other bloggers. All along with as reading as much as he possibly could. So, The Blogger's Bookshop was born!
Coming up a year now, I look back and realise just how far I've come and just how much I've achieved in that space of time. Looking directly at my reading habits, I have read almost 70 books this year, which is crazy! Considering I wouldn't even have read a quarter of that least year, it's astounding to me. In that time I have also made some amazing blogger friends whom I truly couldn't do what I do without, they're so supportive and frankly the best damn group of people on the internet. I've also made amazing connections with publishers and authors, and as a newbie in this blogging industry, it fills my little heart with joy. Okay, I'm getting too happy now. It's Christmas, blame that.
From an insignificant, social recluse with a self centred opinion on books, I feel I have flourished in both my confidence but also my wider view on the world. Reading has opened up my mind to diversity, to being aware of social injustice, to appreciating little details and to authors genuinely caring about what they write about, because it really does come through strongly. This past year has been amazing for me, and I cannot wait to see what next year brings. Apologies if this post got a bit soppy, but you're going to have to deal with me for the years to come, because heck: why should I change for anyone when I've come so far? If I don't speak to you again before the new year, I'll see all you crazy fools in 2016!
Posted by Daniel S