For the longest time, I avoided books. I still bought them. But I couldn't read them anymore.

As a child, I was a bookworm. Adults got me books and I couldn't get enough of them. They chose them by weight rather than topic, and I would blitz through them. Fiction, non-fiction, it didn't matter. I would read late into the night, with the main light turned off, hiding my precious treasures under the cover and reading until my eyes hurt.

Every moment I could get, I would read. People marveled at both how fast I would devour these stories and at the topics I chose. Often, I had to close the book to make it last longer or read multiple books at a time. I couldn't possibly part from these characters, this world. The most difficult thing was to come back to the “real” world.

Literature was always my favorite subject at school. I identified with the author, and with the characters, and I understood the mysterious depths of literature. I especially loved classic novels, where all human emotion was exposed. I learned most of life through literature.

After high school, I studied modern literature. It is also the same time I lost myself. Heartbreak, trauma, sadness, and other unprocessed feelings crept into my life. I lost my identity, I lost my passion for books. I kept reading for my studies, but I didn't read for pleasure anymore. This had become work.

As an adult, I had to force myself to read. I kept on buying books, telling myself I would come back to them at the right time. Books used to be a form of escape, and now books meant I couldn’t escape myself.

It is like I got some kind of reader's block, where I couldn't read anything, started multiple books at once, and stopped. I forced myself to finish books I didn’t like out of respect for the author’s work, instead of reading what I wanted to read.

For a long while, reading seemed like too much work and too much focus, and it broke my heart. But it was still a comfort to have my books there, to know that there were there in case I needed them.

It took me several years to become myself and start reading again. I have to make time for it now. I have to set aside a schedule to get through some pages. When I find a good book, the kind that you can't put down no matter what, I feel complete again. I have to give myself time to process, live in it for a while. But sometimes, it seems like I read everything and can't find a book to save my life.

In the age of technology and social media, a book addiction is very easily replaced by a screen addiction. It is so much easier to scroll, to watch one or more screens. It is easy, it is quick, and it is mind-numbing. Anything to stop thinking.

I often met other people that felt like me. Growing up, they loved to read. But nowadays, they found it harder to focus. How could they even call themselves a book lover if they couldn’t sit down anymore and read 10 pages? It seemed like there were too many distractions in modern life. And it felt like losing my identity.

For the longest time, I felt like I was self-sabotaging. I wanted to read but I just couldn't. At the end of a long day, I didn't have the energy to read anymore. I just wanted a fun, mindless distraction.

Perhaps the problem is social media, perhaps it's growing up. Perhaps it's me. I choose not to do the things I love out of fear that I would actually be myself. That is perhaps the scariest part.

Today, libraries and bookshops are still my favorite place. There is a kind of reverence about them you can't get anywhere else. There, you have all the knowledge of the world. Everything is said, you just have to find it.

Read, and you can create your own world. It is often in the pages of a book that I learned life. It is there that I understood things about myself and the world. And perhaps it was too much to handle.

I had to give myself time to get back to reading, form my own life experiences before I returned to other realities. Today, when I read, it feels like I am myself again. It feels like meeting an old friend.