For whatever reason, I find myself rereading books all of a sudden. I have tons of books on my shelf I haven’t read yet, books from friends and family sitting in a pile, and a stack of unread library books I just returned. In my reading cycle, I seem to be grabbing old friends off the shelf and devouring them like a bag of all-dressed chips (comfort food!).
As I confess this, I also feel the need to confess that I hate starting new books. I usually have about three or four books on the go so that I can pick one up and jump into the story. Right now, I have no new books started and I can’t bring myself to begin reading them. Starting a new book is a lot of work: imagining the setting and characters, getting a grasp for the tone, becoming used to the rhythm of the writing. I find that I need to read at least a few chapters or at least 50 pages of a new book in one sitting before I can feel comfortable putting it down. Yet I find myself in this weird space in my reading where I have devoured all of my books, and now I have none on the go. (Hence why I am grabbing books I’ve read before.)
If I’m being truly honest, I think that there is more to starting a new book than the imagination piece. There’s also a little bit of fear. Someone lent me this book, so what if I don’t like it? The book is by one of my favourite authors and what if I hate it? The book had a lot of reviews, but what if I disagree? So really, it’s not a fear of starting a new book, but the anxiety and the build-up I have in my head before I even open the pages. These anxieties/ fears hold me back. I have a few books that I have left on the shelf for years because of my fears: someone thinks this is the best book ever, so if I don’t read it, I don’t have to disagree with them. My favourite authors will remain my favourites if I don’t take a chance in reading their newest books.
And because of the internet, I realize that I’m not alone! There are at least one or two other people with the same hesitations when starting a new book. Some people are afraid of being let down or letting others down with a new book. Some people are afraid it will consume them or they’ll hate the plot. So it seems I’m not alone.
This hate of starting a new novel is surprising to my friends, especially because they know I love to read. In fact, I recently dropped out a a book club that I co-founded because I just couldn’t bring myself to start reading the books that were chosen. I’m not good at being a group reader, it turns out. I’m a bit selfish and entrenched in my reading habits.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to break my habit of hating the beginnings of books. It’s something that I’ve always hated for as long as I can remember. I know that people say you can break bad habits, yet I think this is a habit here to stay. As long as I have at least one book on the go, I can get comfortable and begin a new one. For me, I guess I need to remember to start a new book before finishing a current book (which will be easier said than done!). So my afternoon goal is to take a book and dive in. And then maybe a few hours later, start another one!