Mini Series: Scrapping Expectations; Choosing Delight
Don’t let the title fool you; this is not a deep, penetrating look at the heart of creativity, the essence of living in the present and making the conscious effort to choose a creative life. This is all about scrapping the pressure of the TBR (to be read) pile in favour of choosing books based on the level of delight you think they’ll bring to your life (even if you’ve re-read it 47 times already!).
I have had an ever changing TBR pile for the last few years. I have physically set aside a pile of books I plan to get through each year, and somehow I always end up changing them out for a new release, or kicking myself for picking up a comfort read when the mood strikes. Then, when the pile never gets smaller and the year dwindles down to a handful of days, I push ahead, planning the next pile of failure before the new year even begins.
As readers we need to choose what we want to consume. This is why I didn’t choose English as my major in University, or one of the reasons - I didn’t want to be told what I had to read, I didn’t want reading to become a chore. It’s also one of the reasons I don’t do book clubs. I love reading, and read avidly for years, until University textbooks took over for a few years. But coming out from all of that and being settled in a schedule now I feel the need to make up for all of that lost time and backtrack on my reading to consume all of those things I missed, bought and didn’t have time for, the classics I wanted to read at the time but have been dust collectors in a china cabinet since we moved.
All of the reasons to read a TBR pile may be enjoyment at the time you assemble it, but sometimes it can just feel like a weight of pressure as you start to slog through them. Reading should be a pleasure, a joy, an escape. These pressures, whether form friends of family wanting you to read a book they loved, society thinking you should read certain materials to be cultured or informed, or yourself punishing to make good use of the fifty dollars you spent at the local library book sale, all come from expectations, and all instill a sense of overwhelm and disappointment when you don’t manage the pile.
I want to regain my relationship with reading. I want to read with intentional choice when I am in the moment. I will always have books I want to read, but I am not going to set an expectation for myself or pressure myself into reading them. I find that books come into our lives when we need their story. If I’m not delighting in holding it in my hands, that story isn’t meant for me right then. Reading has always been a source of boundless magic, and I just want that magic to come back into the process of choosing the story.
If you’re a planner and need the pile, feel free to keep doing what feels right for you. For me, I know that the TBR pile needs to be over and I need to begin a practice of delight lead reading selection.
This goes for any creative project list - do what you delight in, not what you or others expect simply because there is pressure to do so. (Of course the game changes when it is related to a deadline set by a job - there’s always a caveat).