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Reclaiming the Joy of Reading

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Written by Jasey Roberts

I had a similar experience to a lot of people when they were young: I read a lot. From the first Scholastic Book Fair that rolled up to my elementary school, I was juiced up and ready to go with titles like, Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I read everything, from picture books to chapter books with nothing to look at. I read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians twice over. I read the one magic boarding school series penned by The-Author-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Once I hit middle school, I (much to my current dismay) marched to my local Barnes and Noble and announced to the store manager that I wanted to read these elusive things called The Classics, whatever they were. I was ten and already a snob about “the canon,” apparently. He gave me an armful of books like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye (which I still keep on my shelf and secretly have affection for, despite my acknowledgment of all of the relevant criticisms). I read books in every place you weren’t supposed to. I got headaches from reading too much and headaches from not reading enough. My life was halved into the times that I got to read and didn’t. In short, I was a reader with a capital R. 

Somewhere along the line, I kinda stopped and other things became more important. I always read pretty consistently, but now I was reading for different reasons, and I wasn’t reading nearly as much. For most of my teen years, I hadn’t enjoyed reading. I just knew that it was what I was supposed to be doing.

This is something I’m trying to change. Not only am I trying to read more, but I’m also trying to read more of what I like. Reclaiming the Joy of Reading is not an incredibly cool headline, but it’s been a big part of my life for the past month or so. I go for walks almost daily. When I do, I’ll put on an audiobook of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and try to make sense of it. I try not to make myself feel guilty about not wanting to finish a book or about sampling multiple books at once (I’ve discovered that I’m a much more petty and noncommittal reader than I’d thought), but most of all, I try to have fun.