Over the summer I had a serious thought: When was the last time I read a book for pure enjoyment? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I can tell you the last time I watched Netflix as a form of procrastination, but I never read a book when I have nothing else to do. Sometimes I think it’s because with school work and the amount of reading I am assigned that it feels like extra “work” to read any more. When watching a show, you can just let your mind relax. But is that still a valid excuse to not read?
This summer I decided it wasn’t. Something that students might not know is that we are also eligible for a library card from the Boston Public Library (BPL)! So, I decided to go to the library and sign myself up!
Another reason I have always avoided reading was because I never knew what to read. What do I like? What will I stick with and finish? What genre is entertaining to me? There are so many endless options that I could never figure out where to start.
Luckily for me, the BPL has a shelf in the front called “Lucky Day.” It’s a shelf that the library fills with popular books, most of which have a waiting list to read. They take the books out of rotation to give other people the option to read them if it is their “lucky day.” That’s where I started.
The benefit of the “Lucky Day” section is that you only get 14 days to read the book as opposed to the normal 30-day rental. You also cannot renew the book, unlike normal rentals. This forced me to read my books in a rather short time frame. That really got me on a roll.
Instead of finishing my day with some Netflix, I read. I found it relaxing and a nice quiet change of pace. I went to coffee shops to sit and read. I found new parks to read in. It got me out and about, enjoying things at a slower pace than I am used to.
It was more of a personal goal of mine, to feel more connected to something. I almost viewed it as a form of personal growth. What I didn’t expect was to tell my friends what I had been up to and realize they had been reading for enjoyment all along and had plenty of recommendations for me. One of the most helpful recommendations I got was to download the app Goodreads where you can connect with friends and see what they have read, how they rated it, what they are reading, and what is on their reading bucket list. It doesn’t get more fun than that!
(You can also scan books and find other ratings and reviews to see if it sounds like something that is interesting to you!)
But this isn’t just to convince you to download an app or even to tell you to start reading, though you should as the famous scientist Carl Sagan wrote that there are more books in the world than anyone could ever possibly read so you really don’t want to miss your chance to read the small percentage that you can. Instead, I wrote this because the best thing I have gotten out of my new reading endeavor is the book clubs I’ve gone to, sitting on coffee shop patios bonding with strangers over the same emotions and reactions to the book. The people I’ve interacted with at the libraries whether it be the librarian that always helps me find the book to the old woman I sat with as we read for hours. Or the deeper level of friendship my friends and I share over our book preferences and so on. Me stepping out of my comfort zone, trying something I knew wasn’t my strong point (I’m talking to you elementary school Laurel with the low-level reading comprehension) and really enjoying being unplugged and relaxed from the world and school.
We have such little time to enjoy college and the four years feels like two by the end of it. It would be a shame to not continuously try something new, whether it be something as small as reading for pure enjoyment. I hope you too find something that excites you like I have and brings you closer to the community around you as it has for me. Happy reading!