Friday, 30 May 2014

A Look Inside the Life of a Procrastinating Teen Reader

Let’s just cut straight to the point: This year has not been a great start to a very good “Reading Year” for me.

Wow. What have I even become? I – Amy Bouwer, literary freak and lover of all written things – have failed at the one thing I thought I could do best. Reading.

Now let’s not get all freaked out here – I’m still reading. I haven’t gone total illiterate-teenager-who-misuses-your-and-you’re. Of course, I’m guessing that stage in my life can’t be that far away, seeing as my ability to read three to four books per month has decreased to the extent where I probably read three quarters of a book per month. And that’s not all – I even watched an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians while at home sick this morning. I’m becoming the horrifying stereotype of a teenage girl. Somebody send me for counseling, and quick.

The problem is this: I can’t seem to finish anything I read.

And I know what you’re thinking. “Silly, naïve teenager… Obviously by reading you have to finish a book eventually. It’s common sense, but I wouldn’t expect you to understand because you’re so young and obsessed with Tweeter and television and your cellular device and Face Booker blah blah blah.”

Believe me, I KNOW that if you read you obviously have to finish something, SOMEHOW. SOMEDAY. Unfortunately, that “someday” is taking far too long for my liking.

Let’s just take a look at some statistics, shall we?

Last year, I read about an average of two to three books per month during the school term.

This year, my average is about half a book per month. HALF A BOOK. That’s like one hundred and fifty pages. That’s like the amount of pages I could (metaphorically, if I had no homework etc.) read in a single afternoon.

That is shocking. And for a girl who claims to be a reader… It sickens me just to think of it. So I began to try and logically figure out how on earth I had come to be such a failure at life. Was it because I was (gasp) too busy to read? Was it because I was spending too much time doing other things? Possibly. But eventually, I came to a conclusion.

The problem, my friends, lies not in how fast (or slowly) I am reading, but instead in how much I am reading.

It all makes sense. You see, I have to juggle my English set work, my Advanced Programme English set works, the books my parents want me to read, the books my friends want me to read, the books I want to read… It’s all just too much.

The amount of books I’m currently reading is a bit of a joke, really, but here’s a list:

  • Atonement by Ian McEwan (English set work)
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Matric English set work)
  • Jane Eyre (AP English set work)
  • Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (AP English set work)
  • Hamlet (AP English set work)
  • Conquest by John Connoly
  • The Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (YES. STILL. I KNOW.)
  • Kurt Cobain by Christopher Sandford
  • Z by Therese Anne Fowler
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

This is pure madness. MADNESS. What sane person reads this much at once? It’s horribly perplexing, and I’m finding myself getting confused as to why Jane Eyre isn’t fighting the aliens from Conquest, or preparing for the long winter in A Clash of Kings. I think I’m going crazy.

And the problem is that every time I sit down and think, “Wow I actually have time to read. Cool!” I have to sit will all these books in front of me, and it feels like picking a favourite child. Scratch that – I feel like I’m cheating on my book-boyfriend with ten other men.

Oh my word I really am going crazy.

Anyway, I then begin to try and put off reading so that I don’t have to choose between them. To try and express to you what goes on inside my head during this process, I’ve put together a short one-act play.

'Why I Am a Disgusting Mess' – a One-Act Play by Amy Bouwer

Me: “Hey, I have free time! Why don’t I read?”

Me: “Well if I want to read I’ll need a cup of tea and somewhere quiet, obviously, but the builders are drilling outside so I’ll just have to put it off until they’re done and WOW I actually have Chemistry homework to do so maybe I should start that now except for the fact that I’ve had a long day so I should probably let my brain relax by doing something totally unintellectual like watching YouTube videos but only for like five minutes.

Me: *watches YouTube for hours on end, feeling guilty for not reading*

Me: “Oh, well now it’s getting late so I’ll only read for like twenty minutes.”

Me: *spends twenty minutes picking a book*

Me: *reads one page*

Me: *cries self to sleep*


Yeah… It’s a sad, sad process.

Anyway I guess the whole point of this blog was to try explain why I’m such a failure, and also to try and tell you all – indirectly of course – not to get your hopes up for the Nerd List that I should probably post tomorrow because it’s going to suck because I’ve read two books in two months okay.

*takes a deep breath*

And also remember that this is a “No Judgment” zone so keep all your judging on your side of the fence because didn’t your mother ever teach you that it’s rude to take your problems onto other people’s territory wow it took me like three tries to try work out how to spell ‘territory’ look the illiteracy is already seeping into my puny little brain oh and I also want to apologise about this blog because I know it was probably really long and boring but yeah I guess I’m kind of hoping some people will relate to it because we’re all human and nobody’s perfect except probably Liam Hemsworth oops did I say that aloud.

I’m sick and I’ve had a lot of medication today so don’t judge me on this post, please. I’ll probably come edit out all these weird bits later.

To any English teachers reading this: I swear I do know how to construct sentences. It’s called “artistic expression” and “poetic license” – look it up. (I’m kidding – please don’t expel me.)

Comment below and tell me whether you’ve ever felt the same way about reading too many books at once, or console me with your own stories about how you, too, are becoming illiterate.


  1. I am having the exact same problem worse maybe. The problem: grade 11. Solution: sue the school for putting too much pressure on us and leaving us with no time to develop our minds through reading, leaving us stupid. This problem needs to be solved ASAP. I will have my lawyers send over the papers tomorrow morning ;)

  2. It physically pains me to say it because it sounds so cliched, and because it is in fact such a sucky process to have to live through but: Welcome to the first stage of becoming a grown-up (it only gets worse from here. ...Just kidding. As you get older, the cool stuff about being a grown-up starts to outweigh the sucky stuff, so it sort of evens out... and you find a way to juggle the new expectations people place on you... you're going to be an awesome grown-up ;) ...sorry about all the ellipses)

  3. There are so many things out there to read that you have to be choosey. Recently the idea of listing the 10 books that you remember has been doing the rounds on Facebook. My daughter included me on her list. What I found most interesting when thinking about my list was considering why I remembered those that I did. Actually the thinking about what you have read is what is important and sometimes you have to not read so that you can think about what you have just read. Reading some of your blogs which I found enjoyable, triggered a thought to suggest something that is anything but a quick read, but certainly gives one much to think about. - Mary Woolstonecraft:
    A Vindication of the Rights of Women - You can get a copy on the web, otherwise ask your dad for my email address and I could send you a copy.