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Falling back in love with reading

My New Year’s resolution going into 2022 was to read more. Original, I know, but I haven’t read for fun since my sophomore year of high school.

I was the kid in elementary school who read 24/7. I would finish books over the span of a few days and quickly move onto another.

I was considered an advanced reader and indulged in books that were way above my grade level. Adults in my life were impressed, and there was quite a bit of pressure put on me to read all the time while also maintaining an exceptional academic performance. One of my elementary teachers even said she thought I’d be valedictorian.

I was not.

I guess reading “Twilight” in third grade sets everyone’s expectations for you and your future.

Reading for fun in elementary school was easy. There were no deadlines to meet or assignments to complete based on what I read.

All of that changed once I got to middle school.

My teachers began to give us a certain amount of time to finish a book. I’ve always been a fast reader, so this didn’t appear to be an issue. However, finishing a book when you have several other assignments to work on proved to be pretty difficult.

It didn’t get easier in high school.

My workload became much larger. I would spend hours trying to figure out my algebra homework or finish essays, which left little time for reading at home.

During my freshman year, I did most of my reading during class. I would rush through in-class work just so I could have some time to make progress in the book I was reading. 

I’ve always liked to read on my own terms, and if my teachers allowed us to do so, a lot more students would’ve enjoyed reading. Having to meet a deadline on top of other work is stressful and, frankly, makes people hate reading.

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Eventually, I found myself unable to balance my schoolwork and reading for fun. I simply did not have the time to read outside school anymore, especially because I had to prioritize books that were required for class.

I gave up after sophomore year. From junior to senior year, I would occasionally manage to squeeze in a book or two. Still, I wasn’t consistently reading the way I used to.

The new year presented a perfect opportunity to embrace my love of reading again. I missed reading for fun, and since I no longer have to worry about deadlines, I think I’ll become the reader that I once was.

Now that I’m in college, I find myself with a lot more leisure time (oddly enough). Plus, as an English and journalism double major, I should probably be consuming a decent amount of literature. Because I wanted to be an overachiever, I decided that I would begin reading before the new year even started. 

In December, I worked my way through a few novels. I read “The Child Manuela” by Christa Winsloe and another book that stuck out to me: “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith.

Initially, I heard about “The Price of Salt” in FST282 [sexualities and film], a class I took last semester. My professor showed us clips from the 2015 film adaptation, “Carol,” and my interest was piqued.

I received the book as a Christmas gift from my parents. In my excitement, I began reading it on the same day and got halfway through it.

I found myself completely immersed, but wanting to savor the reading experience, I forced myself to take a break. I finished it over the course of the next two days.

To put it simply: I loved this book. If reading it one time wasn’t enough, I reread the entirety of it in one sitting only a few days after finishing it. Then, a few days later, I read it once more to annotate.

“The Price of Salt” was written by Highsmith in 1952, and it follows the story of Therese, a young stage designer living in New York City. She takes up a mundane job in a department store and meets Carol, an older woman who is going through a divorce. The two become infatuated with one another and embark on a cross-country roadtrip, but conflict emerges when Carol must choose between Therese and her own child.

It is a solid 10/10 and I highly recommend it.

“The Price of Salt” was not the only novel I was introduced to through my film class. We screened “Mädchen in Uniform,” which was also adapted from a book.

“The Child Manuela,” the source material for “Mädchen,” was published in Germany before World War II. It is about a young girl, Manuela, who is sent to a boarding school after the death of her mother. At the boarding school, she falls in love with one of her teachers.

I enjoyed this book, particularly because of its historical value. It is slightly hard to follow at times and has rather slow pacing, but those were the only issues I found with it. I’d give it a 9/10.

I should probably give thanks to FST282 for piquing my interest in these books. Finding books that are intriguing has made my reading experience much more exciting and enjoyable.

In January, I read “Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A.” by Eve Babitz, an author I heard about through one of my favorite writers, Orion Carloto. “Slow Days, Fast Company” was written in 1977 and it depicts various stories from Babitz’s rather crazy life in California.

I found this novel a little more difficult to relate to, especially as someone who is from a rural area of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, Babitz’s stories are entertaining, and I enjoyed her style of writing. It earns a 7/10 from me.

In February, I decided to spend some time on one of my favorite authors, Sylvia Plath. I have read many of her poems before, but “The Collected Poems” has all of them in chronological order — a thrilling discovery.

I’m still working my way through “The Collected Poems” because I’m thoroughly annotating and analyzing Plath’s poetry (trust me, it’s time consuming — the woman was complex).

I’d say my resolution is holding up well. The only challenge I’ve faced is getting more than one book per month in, but I’m hoping to make up for that over summer break.

As for the remainder of the year, I have a lengthy list of books that I would like to read before 2023 arrives. 

Truthfully, I’m just happy to be rediscovering my love for something that I’ve always been passionate about. I am excited to see where I am by the end of the year and what kind of books I will find myself immersed in.

I believe the younger version of myself — the girl who spent all of her time reading and writing — would be proud.

southacr@miamioh.edu

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