I’ve always loved reading. I was that kid who read a book a night, who would, each each, start in the A’s of the Middle School library fiction section and simply read my way through the books (skipping any horror or sports books. Oddly enough, that taste hasn’t changed) and the kid who read under my covers with a flashlight.
But ever since my writing hobby has become a writing career… reading has changed.
Sometimes it’s stressful, if I find plotlines I planned to write in an already published book.
Sometimes it’s ego-crushing, when I read a writer whose skill set seems so so so much greater than mine.
Sometimes its stressful, as I race to keep up with reading all the books recommended to me, all the books everyone is talking about, all the books my friends are writing, and all the books my favorite authors are publishing.
Sometimes it’s painful, as I catch myself comparing to other writers. Wondering why this one got such a pretty cover, or that one got such a huge marketing push, or or or or . One could stop reading all together if you let those things get stuck in your head.
So, this summer, I made a promise to myself. I would find my love of reading again.
Every night, before bed, I read. A few chapters at a time. I select the books the way I used to: browsing the library. Admittedly, I first started with a jumbo stack of books I own but haven’t read, but I have since vanquished that stack, so now, it’s on to the library. Just like as a child, I headed to the YA section, and started with the As. Then, I select five per week, and bring them home.
I can’t google the book to learn what awards it’s won, or what the reviewers have said about it. But I’m also not allowed to complain to anyone about what I’m reading. It’s just me and the story. Reading while in bed keeps me from taking notes, or pondering too hard about how this particular book interacts with my writing career.
And it’s been wonderful. I’ve lost sleep reading wondrous stories, just like I used to. My dreams are full of exciting adventures and pondering what might happen next. In short, I found joy again.
What joyful parts of your childhood would you like to reclaim?