When reading feels like being lazy

When reading feels like being lazy ft. Something in the World Called Love by Sue Saliba.

Something in the World Called Love tells the whimsical story of a year in the life of Esma, a young student in Melbourne, Australia discovering what it means to be herself. I first read it in one sitting when I was 16 and it’s the kind of story that I’ve thought about a lot since but have avoided rereading for fear of it not being as good the second time around.

I picked it back up recently because a friend had been asking me for good short book recommendations. After pulling it from my bookshelf I flicked open to the first page and before I had really thought about it I was half way through part one.
I finished it today on the bus home from work and although it’s not the most incredible novel I’ve ever read and definitely won’t be for everyone (the lack of capital letters and conventional structure can be hard to get used to), Saliba captures something at the heart of what it means to be a young almost-woman. She writes of those intense friendships that border on infatuation with a painful honesty and she doesn’t shy away from how uncomfortable it can feel to not quite understand what your place in the world is, yet.

There is this one line towards the end of the novel that I particularly love:

“esma felt caught between sympathy for kara and her own silent promise to move along a path that let her feel more and more alive”

Sometimes a perfect sentence comes into your life just when you need it. This one caught something of what I’ve been feeling lately about making it a priority for myself to do more of the things that make my heart happy. Because throughout June all I wanted was to spend each day curled up under my covers with a good, long book and an endless supply of tea and instead, I spent most of my time feeling stressed out about impending university deadlines and procrastinating on my phone.

I don’t know what it is about social media (maybe the speed?) that makes me feel like I’m not really wasting my time by scrolling and scrolling. And I don’t know what it is about reading something that brings me joy that makes me feel like I’m wasting my time. Just that there’s this guilt that seeps in if I’m not studying and it’s hard to shake.

So, my silent promise to myself is that next trimester, alongside learning about renaissance literature (wish me luck) I’ll figure out how to procrastinate by reading the books I want to read. You have to make space for the things you love and I’m very glad that Esma’s story could remind me of that.

Vita O’Brien

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