Reading is FUN!

Personal / Friday, April 7th, 2006

Reading is FUN!

Until the summer of 2004, I forgot I loved to read fiction.

One does not usually torture themselves in the academic disciplines of Political Science and Law without some love of the written word. Since graduating from college, I read every newspaper and magazine I can get my hands on. And my shelves are filled with books on politics and current events.

But then, out of nowhere, I discovered something quite shocking. I couldn’t remember the last work of fiction I had read since my Shakespeare class, almost, ten years ago.


I was the wee one whose Auntie Carroll taught her to read, before learning to tie my shoes. I sat on Daddy’s knee while he read the Evening Observer. I was the student who brought home her book fair flyer and bought pretty much every book I wanted. I was the preteen who went with mom to the Laundromat every weekend and spent my weekly allowance at the Book Nook. And in High School? I was the student who read “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck because my English teacher recommended it, while everyone else read something else with significantly fewer pages. And most likely more exciting.

So how did I end up void of all things fiction in my life?

I was overhearing fantastic conversations in coffee shops and bookstores that I couldn’t be a part of! Something had to be done.

Starting in June 2004, I started keeping track every book I read, consciously adding fiction. I began with a popular novel called “The Time Travelers Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. I continued on with “City of Light” by Lauren Belfer. Of course after reading that book, I fell back into my non fiction niche with “Murdering McKinley” by Eric Rauchway. Eventually, I discovered Margaret Atwood, Jodi Picoult, Kurt Vonnegut and Jeanette Winterson. Fiction was now a part of my life.

In 2005? I fell in love. With Jane Austen and the Brontes. For the first time, I could name my very own favorite fiction writers. And since that point of no return? I’ve been devouring books.

Reading fiction is no longer a challenge. So this year, I challenged myself to read more books I actually own. You know the ones: scattered by your bed, borrowed from your best friend, bought off of, written down on notebooks. I named twenty I want to read this year. Along with ten recommendations from trusted friends.

I have found that it is nearly impossible to gauge my reading appetite. I have three, four or five books started at any given time and read genres and authors in phases. My current phase has been reading those fantastically, horrific, pathetic “How to Get Married, Yesterday” books (to make fun of) as well as popular chick lit authors I feel a “kinship of voice” with. Hardly comparable to Henry James, Charles Dickens or Vladimir Nabakov. However, I am confident this tide will too turn.

After I finish reading “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, I will have completed the third book towards my 2006 challenge. (Aside to anyone who wants to read this novel: do not read while enjoying your Saturday coffee at Pano’s. Tears will fall.)

I challenge everyone today to go to your bookshelf. Or library. (Check out Library Thing for recommendations!) Or favorite neighborhood bookstore. Write down a list of books you have yet to read or always wanted to read and get reading. Be it one, or five or fifty. You will thank yourself later.

Whatcha talkin' bout Willis?