So, I’m noting the date, because 2013 is the year I definitely got my reading groove back.
Yeah, it probably should have never been lost, because I’m a writer, and writers read, but let me tell you something: doing seven years of university degrees in English and writing can take a lot out of a person.
I’ve been obsessed with books since I was born. Yesterday I even told you about the private library I ran as a preschool-aged kid. When I was in kindergarten, I got to write, illustrate, and bind my own book at school. That was when I decided it was going to be my job to write books. (I didn’t consider how to pay the bills – I was five. My mom bought me toys and juice boxes. Life was good.)
One of my first jobs was working at a bookstore, and if it weren’t for all of the customers, it would have been my dream job, because I just liked being around the books. When I quit, I distinctly remember chatting with one of my co-workers and saying, “Yeah, I’m not gonna miss the people, but the books.” (Loner? I don’t know what you’re talking about…)
SIDENOTE: One day, I will own a used bookstore like Bernard Black and not actually sell anything because I don’t want anyone to actually be in my bookstore.
In university, I used to spend my free time at the library, not in one of the common quiet areas, but literally sat on the floor between shelves of books, just hanging out. I loved being surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of books. I also loved the looks on people’s faces when they came upon me, totally silent, in the middle of a huge library.
Then university sort of broke me.
Remember when I said, “if it wasn’t on a syllabus, I didn’t read it“?
That’s true. And also, if it was on a syllabus, I did read it.
So, the average English class had me reading approximately 6-10 novels, plus other short readings and theoretical essays, etc. The 400-level English courses had me reading approximately 10-20 novels (20 was for the crazy professors, but it happened, oh, it happened), plus the other stuff.
Let’s just say 10 novels per class, just for fun. (“Fun.”)
And 10 novels multiplied by approximately 18-20 English classes in my undergrad degree is 180-200. 180-200 books read in a five-year time period.
Okay, I just need a minute, because I’ve never actually done that math before.
Then there was my second degree, which was even more intense than I could have expected, and which left me on the floor of my flat, having in-depth conversations with my ceiling about all of the Derrida I was reading. Basically, it fried my brain.
(I still love you, Derrida, but what were you on about?!)
After that, I needed a break. Because like I said, I was broken. My brain was on overload. I was tired of reading.
That’s not to say I didn’t read anything between 2011 and now. But I did notice a distinct lack of focus on my part. It was as though I was physically unable to read a page and retain it for more than 30 seconds. For a while, I freaked out about it and worried that I was literally broken for the rest of my life.
Also, I made the mistake of reading 50 Shades of Grey so that I could properly make fun of it. So that
probably definitely did some damage.
When 2013 hit, I set myself the small – but important – goal of reading at least one book a month. I’m happy to say that I have almost surpassed my goal of 12 books in a year in not even six months.
And damn, it feels good.
I finally remember what it’s like to just sit back and enjoy, to read things that are genuinely interesting to me, and not just things I’m being told to read. (That’s not to say I didn’t read some incredible books in university, but I read a lot of books I hated, and also, I have authority issues, so sometimes I hated the books on principle.) I’ve rediscovered the beauty of curling up on my couch and disappearing into a beautiful story, or getting under the blankets in bed and staying up late because I’m totally enveloped and have to get to the end of a chapter. (Thanks, Kobo and attachable reading light!)
I’ve rediscovered what it feels like to relax. And it feels really, really good.
Guys, reading for fun is THE BEST. I’m so glad to be back.