An open letter to the books I haven't read, from my ADHD
Okay, so I’m not actually going to write this in open letter form, because my books aren’t sentient even though I often feel like they’re living and breathing, given how much guilt I feel every time I look at them. I’m just going to get it all out there — talk about how I feel when I walk through my living room, to the bench by the window, or perhaps to the bathroom, and have to pass the lovely bookshelf my partner and I built over a grueling Saturday at Home Depot, in the heat, filled with math and saws and right angles.
After we completed our bookshelf, we lovingly placed our books and trinkets on top of the wooden planks, and I looked at each one as I did — thinking about how I’d read it all the way through but had been distracted, or only gotten 40 pages in, or perhaps never started at all (though had purchased it with the best intentions). As a writer and editor, I constantly feel as though I should be more well-read — this is a secret of mine, and it is something that cannot be quickly accomplished, much like a toned body or a hefty savings account (unless one wins the lottery or comes into a healthy inheritance). It’s something that must be cultivated over time, and while I’ve tried to find the energy and the focus, I often just…can’t.
I used to read. I used to read a lot. But then something happened — maybe it was the internet, or maybe it was my ADHD ramping up (I think it was mostly the ADHD, though having the internet at my fingertips all the time didn’t help), but whatever it was, I lost the ability to truly focus. I found the right medication and learned to train myself to study enough to get through college, but for the most part, I still can’t get myself to sit through a novel. Short stories and essays are my jam now, but even so, I have a hard time reading more than three of them before something else calls to me. I forget where I was, lose myself in another task or even another book, and whatever I was reading doesn’t get picked up again for months, if ever.
The thing is, I WANT to read. I’m constantly ordering (and pre-ordering!) things from book purveyors online. I want to support writers whose work I follow on Twitter, and I get so excited when a new book arrives and I can hold it in my hands and flip through all the words which I will, hypothetically, get to put in my head soon. But the problem is in the practice, and not the theory. The problem is in the follow-through, which I know is only partially my fault, because my ADHD is real and not something I can help, but I also am not as disciplined as I used to be with making myself sit down and focus, and that part is on me.
So anyway, books, I’m sorry that I haven’t spent the time with you that you deserve, even though we built you a lovely home on a sunny wall. I will get my life together soon, and take you down one by one to spend some time. I love you forever, xo.