Reading Time: 3 minutes

I know I’m not the only scholar to fall asleep with books on my bed. Should we be romanticizing this kind of behavior, or not? Get ready for another Workaholic Missive!

A view of the books I fell asleep with on my bed last week.
A view of the books I fell asleep with on my bed last week.

Everyone falls asleep with books on their bed, right? It’s not just me? And it’s not just academics…or is it?

When in get-shit-done mode, I tend to be unpleasant to be around. Sometimes I’m short with others, and sometimes I’m unpleasant to myself, keeping weird hours and only-just managing to get enough calories and sleep. I still do prioritize sleep, though, because I know I don’t function well without it.

If I can only squeeze in so much self-care at a given time, however, putting away my books when I’m still working with them seems kinda pointless.

This leads to weird behavior like sleeping with my books. I can read as late as I want into the night, and wake up and start reading again. Not that I’ve been that diligent recently, given conference travel and such. But I’m working back up to it!

I file this kind of behavior under “my life is not always interesting.” Doing research for my classes and writing is not very exciting except to a select type of nerd. There’s no real-life version of a martial arts training montage with rousing music when you’re a scholar. I wish there were, and I wish I could learn by osmosis when I sleep next to my books, but that’s not possible.

Because posting about spooning my books to sleep feels a bit like a humble-brag, I wonder: Do we romanticize the pursuit of knowledge in academia to unrealistic and unhealthy levels? Yeah, probably. Being a knowledge worker is a bit like being a ritual specialist in some ways; it requires dedication to the craft, and undertaking this kind of devotion means missing out on other parts of life, whether through having to observe taboos and restrictions or simply not having the time or energy.

Sleeping with one’s books is probably not the most unhealthy practice, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your sleep (I’m light and sound sensitive when I sleep, but seeing as my books are normal and not the necromantic kind, they don’t keep me awake). I do think this practice might be indicative of a larger pattern where I neglect social relationships to the point of being a shitty friend when I’m in the thick of it,seeing as if my bed’s littered in books I’m clearly not cleaning my room enough to have people over, nor am I going out as much. And that is a little concerning…but it’s part of how I roll.

I think for now, sleeping with books is a necessary evil as I near the end of the semester. I’m especially entering a time crunch as this is also winding down my time at Berkeley, and I know I won’t have gotten in enough of everything I’d wanted to (from research to fun things). But such is life. And many of these books will stay with me for months to come as I wrap up existing research and teaching projects and begin new ones.

Anyway, I’d like to end with a reminder that I’ve got a list of evidence-based tools for self-care. Check ’em out if you haven’t already.

FOXY FOLKORIST Studied folklore under Alan Dundes at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy...

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