Whatever happened to reading for pleasure?

Somewhere along my road in academia, I feel like I’ve lost my joy in reading. I am an active reader outside of work, a hobby that I maintained even during 60+-hour work weeks as a resident physician (if only to read a single paragraph of a short story before falling asleep at night). But over the last several years, my sense is that reading at work has turned into a chore rather than a pleasure. Unsurprisingly, for many years I’ve felt a niggling concern that I don’t read enough or keep up with the literature properly. But, like most of life in an academic lab, there’s no clear definition on what is enough and it can be hard to accurately assess how much you’re doing. Reading at work is especially prone to this assessment challenge, because I tend to squeeze it in when I don’t have an experiment planned rather than schedule time for it. I also often will skim an article found via Twitter or an email alert at an inopportune time but not go back and read it thoroughly later (which leaves me feeling dissatisfied with the brief and hurried skim). All of this griping is a lead-up to my new plan - to follow along with the #365papers crew and tweet out every paper that I read thoroughly and deeply.

My hope is that this process will encourage me to read more papers deeply (although I am not personally trying to read 365 papers in the next year; the #168papers goal is probably more realistic given that I don’t work on weekends or holidays unless I have a particular project deadline). I am also starting this project with the hopes that it will make the writing process more enjoyable for me. By far the biggest challenge for my during this first year of my postdoc has been the writing process. Since to write well, you must read well, I’m going to tackle my writing woes by reading more deeply and paying attention to the writing as I go. Wish me luck!