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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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When Reading Becomes a Responsibility

From about the age of 7, I have been an avid reader. Let me rephrase that. When I was in Elementary School, I learned how to read. My mom would probably argue that I was ahead of the curve, reading before a lot of the other kids, but I'll keep it simple and say that I learned to read with everyone else, in Elementary School. I don't have many memories of what it was like to learn to read, because in my mind there has never been a time where I couldn't. Not to take any credit away from my family, but my passion for reading wasn't really inspired by anyone in particular that I grew up around. I wasn't recommended a book that would change the way that I felt about the world, inevitably plunging me into the incredible world of fiction. I wasn't forced to spend any amount of time after school reluctantly reading until it finally became something that I enjoyed. My earliest memories of myself are all strung together by what books I was reading when the memorable moments in my life occurred. Skiing road trip to North Carolina in 6th grade? Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. When the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, I had just finished the 3rd book in the Mediator Series by Meg Cabot. Historical events of years past have the most meaning to me through the books that I read that told stories of both fictional and real people who were experiencing the events first hand. Every book I could get my hands on, I would read. I would beg my parents to buy me books for birthdays, Christmases and for no reason at all, but they would argue that buying me books was a waste of money simply because I would read them in a day and never pick them up again. This unfortunate circumstance gave way to what I would regard as the most meaningful relationship of my life: the library. The library opened doors for me that otherwise would have been impossible. I practically lived at the library in middle and high school. My friends and I would ride our bikes to the library at least twice a week to trade out books we had devoured in a matter of hours. I volunteered at my local library throughout High School and I absolutely loved being there. 

You may be asking yourself, why is all of this so important to note? It's obvious this person is a reader, which I already knew because she is contributing to a book blog. This seems redundant. Where is this romance going?!

This is where the story takes a dark turn. Okay it's not that dark, but it is mysterious. My love of reading was never something I had to work on. It always lived inside of me, an ever-present, constant need for a story outside of my real life. An escape that I valued and honored. But now, I am ashamed to admit that reading has become something that I force myself to do. I never seem to have enough time and when I do, it seems easier to watch three episodes of a television show than to slow it down long enough to cuddle up with my book. This problem really started when I was in college, when I was reading a lot of not-so-interesting material for classes that I had mistakenly thought would interest me. Reading started to become a responsibility rather than my favorite hobby. There is something criminal in that. It pains me to admit that I find myself having to concentrate extremely hard to get through something that I would have breezed through in middle or high school. This pains me more than I think I even realize. 

I am usually not a stressed out individual. It has never been difficult for me to push aside my everyday worries and fully invest myself in what I am reading. But I guess a big part of growing up, as awful as this is gonna sound, is that you get less opportunities to mentally check out and abandon your responsibilities for a couple of hours to join a fantasy world. When I sit down to read now, I find myself drifting off every couple of pages, realizing halfway through a paragraph that I've been thinking about how I need to call my grandparents, or that I forgot to pay my internet bill the day before. These little interruptions accumulate and eventually lead me to put my book down. 

Now, I don't want to blame technology for this problem, but I think it is definitely worth saying that I am surrounded by technology all day long, every single day. I think it is safe to assume that the long term effects of having things happen instantly at my fingertips can effect the way I feel about reading. I do insist that my laptop and phone are put away when I sit down to read a book that I am going to review, and if I need to take notes I do so with a pen and paper. This seems to alleviate some of my distraction. 

This lull is not something that I think is permanent. The past couple of years have been so different than the life I lived in my younger years. So many things have changed and it is not that surprising that the thing that has remained constant for so long would falter. I have faith that with a little patience, the ease with which I consumed literature many moons ago will return and the flame of passion that once burned bright inside of me will rise again! At least I hope it will. 


  1. YOU CAN DO IT! We all believe in you! You'll get that passion back!

  2. I identify with this problem so much! I stopped reading for regularly for years toward the end of college and right after I graduated. It just no longer felt like something I could make time for. I'm not exactly sure when my turning point was to come back around and start reading again but eventually as things started to smooth out a year or two after graduating I finally was able to focus on reading as a hobby again. Even now, if things get crazy, reading is one of the first things to go - but I'm with you - I'm determined not to let it slip away completely!