On Burning Yourself Out on Books

Edition 29: May 2021

Hi, friends, and happy summertime!

Lately I’ve been thinking about burnout beyond the regular 9–5 situation. I’ve sufficiently blurred the lines between work and play when it comes to my love for books. In the last five years of writing for the bookish internet, I’ve put more and more brain power into turning the books I read into something to write about to make money. And it is simply not sustainable for my happiness anymore.

This is the problem with turning your hobbies into hustles. I’ve read so many think pieces about it, but I was certain it would never apply to me. I love reading. I love writing about books. How could anything go wrong? Sigh.

Books stopped being fun. Reading became a competition to the point of not remembering anything from the book I just read because I wanted to add another title to my yearly count. Every time I read a book on an interesting topic, I started researching more books on that topic so I could compile the perfect reading list. It became exhausting.

In case you need to hear it: You don’t need to commodify everything. You’ve gotta enjoy your life.

I don’t remember making this goal for 2021, but it’s especially important right now: “Focus on enjoying reading, rather than what kind of work I can make out of it.” Sounds simple, but I feel like I need to re-train myself to love reading for the sake of reading. So, for this month—and the rest of…forever? I hope?—I’ll be reading whatever strikes my fancy when I look at my beautiful bookshelves.

I hope you have some good reading ahead of you.

What I read

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green: John Green is so important to me. I read Looking for Alaska as a lost 15-year-old, not-so-sneakily reading and rereading it during geometry class. It feels right that his first work of nonfiction comes during my 30th year. I’ve grown up reading Green’s books, watching his videos, and trying to think deeply about things the way he does. His work always reminds me that the world is worth learning about. Even when—especially when—everything feels dark and terrible and hopeless. 5 stars.

“We all know how loving ends. But I want to fall in love with the world anyway, to let it crack me open. I want to feel what there is to feel while I am here.”
― John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed

My Alcoholic Escape from Reality by Kabi Nagata: Kabi Nagata’s been writing these memoir mangas about her mental health for years, and I eat them all up. This one, about her alcoholism and pancreatitis and recovery, is another gem.

Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman: I went in expecting a badass feminist take on mythology, and was pleasantly surprised with a collection of personal essays framed by the female monsters of mythology. Excellent.

What I wrote

The time has finally come for me to vomit out all the feelings and weird facts about Ernest Hemingway I’ve collected in my brain over the years. I pored over this for weeks, trying to encapsulate every strange and bad thing about that racist misogynist that I hold so closely to my heart. I hope you’ll read it and learn something.

You know how the bookish internet can get all up in arms about something seemingly minor? I turned that rage into a dumb list of better rating systems than the Goodreads rating system, including the mouth noises system and the pain scale.

And I rounded up some very good middle grade books about mental health.


Crooked Reads is a monthlyish newsletter from Ashley Holstrom.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Bookshop.org and will earn a commission if you click through any book links and make a purchase.

⚡️ Archive | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Tumblr

Tip Jar