Reading and the Social Angst

This is not an essay about the topic — no in-depth generalization. I am by no means a psychologist nor someone who works with the human mind or soul. I am just me and this is my story. Or something like that.

As the title already tells you, I am writing about something that is currently bugging me — yes, I have not overcome this angst yet but I am on a good way. At least I feel so.

I read a lot. I haven’t in the past but since I am commuting to work (1 hour by train in one direction) I have the time to read. As a kid, I didn’t like reading. I do not know how the school in other countries work, but in Hungary, you had to read some books during a school year and write about it (either a test or essays). I don’t have to mention that the books weren’t interesting for me as a kid and I never read a book until the summer of 2001 where I had a summer job with a lot of free time which I spent reading books like Crime and Punishment, The Red and the Black, Father Goriot, Madame Bovary and who knows what else — I cannot remember what was on the list for the 2001/2002 school year. I’ve read those books but I cannot remember them. I couldn’t read behind the lines. I never understood what the real meaning was in those books. For one reason I lacked the knowledge of history and the events what was happening at the time those books have been written, and I lacked the knowledge how to understand books and their meaning because nobody taught this. But it was expected that you understand why Raskolnikov felt just by killing that old woman. And the same goes for all those books.

Then there was a pause again until 2014. Actually, in 2013, while I was still living in Salzburg, I bought myself a Kindle to read on the train because I’ve been traveling home almost every weekend (to see my girlfriend). The train ride between Salzburg and Sopron, Hungary took around 4–5 hours. Plenty of time to read. It was Murakami Haruki who brought back my desire to read, specifically his novel A Wild Sheep Chase. I took that book because of its title. It was abstract and couldn’t imagine what could lie behind this title. And it was awesome. Since then I cannot stop reading.

OK, I do not read much. I pledge around 45 books a year on Goodreads. But this is manageable while commuting. Some books are short but some are longer. But I read a lot of books — at least I feel like I’m reading way more than the average Hungarian. And I document every book at Goodreads.

And with this we arrived at my topic: social angst to share what I read. Everything. To show off that I am reading. I am not some nerd who just plays games on his computer/cell phone. I am a bit intellectual and I read books. I devour books. It doesn’t matter what genre. It doesn’t matter what topic, what size, the deepness, the idea… I read. And I share my reading list on Goodreads.

I do not have many followers nor friends on the website. I share only My Year in Books on FaceBook to show my 150-ish friends that I am a reader. If I get 1 or 2 likes I am happy.

The angst came some weeks ago when I came back to Medium to write and read. I upgraded my account to premium to support writers here. I bought some weekly papers in a local store to support Hungarian writers (this is another story with political content). But I cannot share those articles on Goodreads. And my yearly challenge won’t be done if I do not read books but articles which I cannot document. I cannot complete my pledge and I will fail.

OK, nobody would tell me that I failed because nobody follows me. No one would see that I didn’t accomplish those 45 books. But what if? Would they accept that I’ve read a lot of online articles on Medium? I did a personality improvement (self-help) course online which involved a lot of reading? I’ve written a lot to overcome my barriers? I’ve read some newspapers and other magazines?

And this is my social angst with reading. Nobody cares just me. But it makes my mind wander and brings me down to a level I do not want to be.

And I am writing this article to be of help. To come out of the shadow and tell you: “Hi, I am Gabor and I have the angst of not reading enough to share on my Goodreads profile.” I bet you won’t have the sympathy and understanding for this. And this brings me down too — but no worries.

It’s July. The second half of the year is here, days are getting shorter and that self-help course has some impact. I start to overcome my fear and read fewer books. I start to overcome the urge to read only books. I start to read articles.

And I write again. I stopped writing because writing a lot took time from reading and I couldn’t accomplish my pledge of books. Last year, in 2018, I’ve written a book aided by Apress. It isn’t a best-seller — it’s a technical book which cannot become the literature although there are some books which are a good read for every coder (Clean Code, The Pragmatic Programmer to mention a few) not Website Scraping with Python. My book talks to a small segment of developers: who know the Python programming language and are interested in gathering data from websites.

Anyhow, I’ve spent a lot of time in 2018 writing this book. This took a lot of time from my reading and I barely finished my pledge of 40 books. If you look at My Year in Books — 2018 you see some very short books. I’ve read those just to finish the pledge and to be no failure. It felt great at the end of the year to complete my goal. But now? I’m looking back and I am not proud of myself. I let this social angst overcome me and read a lot of junk just to finish something nobody cares about.

I thought about reviewing those books I read. But again, my fear was stronger and I gave up on writing reviews. When I’ve written something it was short and lousy. I am again not proud of myself.

My next step is to rework my daily routine. Instead of reading every time I can I will come back more to writing.

In the morning I read. I read articles if I have a magazine or newspaper with me. I read a Kindle-book on the underground/metro while commuting in Vienna.

On my way back home I will write. On the train — in the underground/metro I will stick to Kindle. I will write articles. I will write reviews. I will write. And I won’t be bothered if I can read only 40 books in a year. I bet I am reading more than the average Hungarian — and I will do some research in my non-commuting time to see what’s the case.

If you’re interested in reading more feel free to reach out, ask questions, follow me or anything like that. I currently cannot plan to make my articles members only because I don’t get any money for writing because I live in Hungary. But don’t let this fool you. I will give my best to deliver quality articles.

And a quick notice at the end which doesn’t really relate to my angst. I looked back at the previous years and the books I’ve read and added to my Goodreads profile/list. I am astonished that I read more pages on average in 2015 then I am doing now — or in the last years.

Well grounded developer, mentor. I wear glasses.