By: Maddie De Pree, Columnist
Last week, my academic advisor informed me that I don’t read as much as I should. I was quick to point out that I have been reading more frequently this semester, which is true — I’ve been keeping a reading list and everything! — but she was correct, as always.
The irony of this is not lost on me. Since I am an English major, most people assume that I read books all the time (as indeed I should). Unfortunately, I don’t always read as much as I ought. In fact, I hardly read any books last semester. This was due in part to my course load and in part to my own laziness. I was swamped with applications, coursework and various writing projects, and I somehow convinced myself that I had no time to spare for literature.
Fellow book lovers, cut me some slack. Even English scholars occasionally flip on a TV show instead of cracking open a book. Sometimes a gal just wants to lay motionless in front of a screen for several hours without having to exert a single ounce of energy or thought! (Am I right, ladies? Anyone?)
Yeah, it’s bad, I know. But during my reading lull, I wasn’t totally slacking: I was writing all the time, and I told myself that as long as I was writing, I didn’t have to worry much about what I was reading. (Very false, but I digress.) Still, I’d started to feel like I was lacking inspiration; my writing was missing something crucial. Around the middle of January, I realized that I needed to get back into reading in a big way, so I started scouting around for good reading material: short stories, memoirs, books of poetry, you name it. I’ve read ten books since January 1 of this year.
I’m not sure why some people fall in and out of love with reading. I do wonder, sometimes, whether all the standardized tests and AR quizzes sap the joy out of literature at a young age. I remember tearing through books as a kid: where had that experience gone? As much as I still like to read, I feel like I might never regain that initial voracious love. Perhaps this is the sacrifice of those who love literature: in analyzing and creating it, we are forced to see behind the curtain, to consume it in a different way than we once had. This is both a disappointment and a privilege; once one learns how to “make the magic,” the “magic” itself takes on a new tone.
Thanks to suggestions from friends, the department and the good ‘ol Internet, my reading stack is now about as tall as my desk. I’ve found some fresh novelists and poets, and I’ve even rediscovered some works that I might never have read. If you have any hot suggestions, drop me a line. I’ll add it to the top of my stack.