The hard process of relearning to read for enjoyment
Piper discusses how she started feeling obligated to read due to academia, and now, she is trying to regain her love to read for enjoyment.
I love books, and I love reading. These two truths about myself led me to become an English major, and to pursuing a career in publishing. No matter how grateful I am that I am attending a school that I love, or taking classes that I find fascinating, I still mourn how much time I’ve lost reading books that I don’t enjoy.
I’m not a firm believer that one has to enjoy every book they read in order to get something out of it. I certainly don’t enjoy reading things such as memoirs of people undergoing suffering, however, they often provide a sense of contentment at the end, when the subjects of the memoirs reveal they survived in spite of it all. What I mean by “reading for enjoyment” is actually taking the time to allow the important lines of a book to soak in, or at least the lines that resonate with me. That’s something that I’ve lost in the throes of academia.
My reading style has drastically changed ever since I entered high school. That was when my procrastination and perfectionism tendencies made themselves known, and I quickly learned how to skim books. I did read the majority of the books I was assigned, however, I resorted to seeking out quotes for essays, especially towards the end of my time as a high school student. Entering college made my skimming tendencies worse, and now, I fully read only the books that really grab my attention, which isn’t many.
Skimming books hasn’t quite carried over to the books I read for leisure, but I can tell it’s impacted how I consume books. Most recently, I was struggling with picking up The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson and actually reading it. For some reason, I couldn’t get into it despite loving the previous book in the series, and instead of moving on to a different book, I kept coming back to it in an attempt to complete it. I can’t say I started skimming the book, but I often spaced out for a few paragraphs, only to reread what I’d missed. Even though I knew I wasn’t enjoying the process of reading it, I still forced myself to push through, hoping it would catch my interest eventually. It had gotten to the point that I was actually dreading picking it up.
I’ve since moved on to a book that I’ve been able to read consistently (while enjoying it!), but I can’t help but wonder if the thought that I had to finish a book I wasn’t enjoying originated from my study habits, or from something else entirely. Perhaps it’s due to late nights spent searching for the perfect quote for an essay, perhaps it’s stemming from a fear of failure. Either way, it’s something I’m working on overcoming to improve my future reading experiences.
I’m still hoping to read several more books before I head back to school in less than a month. Instead of attempting to power through everything I’ve borrowed from the library, I’d like to do my best to focus on books I’m interested in, or that I’m actually compelled to continue reading. And if I feel dread picking up a book, I hope it’s due to the scares promised by a good Stephen King book, and not because I feel obligated to keep reading it.