Learning How to Read for Fun Again

Somewhere in my parents’ attic sits a cardboard box filled with dozens of books from the “Baby-sitter’s Little Sister” series. My first-grade self stumbled across the series at my elementary school’s book fair.

This cover is absurd. Ways you can tell Karen is about to drown: 1) Where’s your oxygen tank, Karen? 2) Where’s your wetsuit, Karen? 3) What’s up with those two fish next to you that look like a bulldog’s head, Karen? 4) Where’s your scuba diving buddy, Karen? It sure ain’t that platypus/stingray hybrid creature in the background.

I LIVED for the book fair. I didn’t want to be a kid in a candy store. I wanted to be a kid in a book fair. Buy ALL the books, buy ALL the bookmarks with fuzzy animals on them, and buy ALL the pencils! Anywho, I don’t remember exactly how I realized that “Karen’s Island Adventure”  would be a good read (I do, however, remember that I learned how to spell the word “surgery”  while reading the book. For about the first half of it, I didn’t understand how Karen’s friend could possibly be having heart “sugary.” I thought the doctors were going to cover it in sugar, which made absolutely no sense. Yeah, I was dumb), but since I was like 6 years-old, there is an astronomically high probability that I just thought the cover looked pretty. That’s right, I judged a book by its cover. And guess what? It paid off, because I flew through that book in a day.

And so began my addiction to Ann M. Martin novels. I had always been a voracious reader. My mama taught me well. Bedtime stories were a must. I always checked out lots of books from the library. I borrowed “The Rainbow Fish” so many times that my parents bought me my own copy. It is now one of my most prized possessions. But I digress. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, my personal “Baby-sitter’s Little Sister” library.

I eventually graduated to the “Baby-sitter’s Club” series, but by that point, I had to check them out from the library because my “little” collection was getting rather expensive to maintain. I was so obsessed that I modeled my handwriting after the character Stacy’s handwriting (I know, I was nuts).

I began dabbling in other series, and pretty soon, I was a fixture at the local library. I loved going to the library so much that I signed up as a volunteer shelver every summer during middle school.

Surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books was like being in heaven. I was like a less cultured Rory Gilmore (“Nothing, nothing smells like that.”  “I’m sorry, did I just see you smell that book?!”). To this day, I love the smell of books. Once again, I’m nuts.

Somewhere along the line – probably the latter half of high school – I stopped reading as much. To make a long story short, I just didn’t have enough free time anymore. Plus, Facebook was invented. #loser #procrastination

By the time I reached law school, my love of reading was dead (#RIPBooks). After reading cases all day, the last thing I wanted to do was read some more. My hands were cramped from scribbling so many handwritten notes in the margins. You should see my law school textbooks from my first year. I switched up my pen colors and highlighter colors – because that was one of the few ways to make the textbook look remotely happy and fun – and the result at the end of the year was a collection of rainbow-colored papers. Yes, I am a nerd.

Torts-textbookExhibit A: making a law textbook look slightly cute by using a purple highlighter and pink pen

Right before winter break of my first year began, my roommates told me about this great series that I should read. I was hestitant at first, particularly because it was a futuristic science-fiction-y series. “Don’t worry,” they said. “It’s an easy read, and it’s SO GOOD.”

They were talking about the “Hunger Games.” That’s right: I learned to start reading for fun again at the age of 22 because of a young adult series about a 16-year-old living in some futuristic world where people force children to kill each other for entertainment. Judge me all you want, but I had my reading mojo back. I tore through those books over the break like Katniss Everdeen tore through the forest in the arena. It was a way to escape all the stress of school, and a great way to kill time while I waited for my grades to come back in. But looking back on it, I think one of the biggest draws of that particular series was how much I identified with Katniss. Like her, I was trying to survive. Sure, I wasn’t about to be killed by a spear or zombie wolves at any given moment, but I was trying to make it through a grueling, often mortifying, and incredibly stressful period in my life.

But just as I was getting back into the swing of things, school started back up, and the law school studying marathons began again. I was Katniss, and I was back in the arena, and there was no time for frivolous reading (seriously, did you ever notice Katniss reading a book while she was trying to tackle the life-altering task in front of her? No? I didn’t think so.).

It wasn’t until this past winter break – meaning two years after my initial “Hunger Games” phase – that I decided enough was enough. NO, SCHOOL, YOU WILL NOT DEFEAT ME AND MY ONE TRUE LOVE. Instead of wasting time on Facebook, Gawker, Buzzfeed, and Instagram before bed, I grabbed a novel. Okay, so I started off again with another young adult series: “Divergent,” but at least I got the ball rolling again, right? The last book in the series, “Allegiant,” left me enraged, but I guess the ending was probably the most realistic out of all the young adult novels I’ve read. But I digress. Next up: Blogger Allie Brosh’s cartoon-y book “Hyperbole and a Half.” The book is a collection of some of her most popular blog posts (which are hilarious stories about her childhood and adult life told through rather rudimentary MS-Paint-esque drawings), along with some newer stories. It’s a quick read, and I totally recommend it.

january books
Exhibit B: books I’ve read in the past couple of months that do not require highlighting in order to be fun

But surely, surely, I wouldn’t read for pleasure one school started right? WRONG. I borrowed a copy of the British mystery “The Cuckoo’s Callling” and trudged through it (I swear, it’s never taken me so long to read a J.K. Rowling book before, but I was determined to finish it). Then I bought “Gone Girl,” which I flew through in a week. It is an excellent book – a dark thriller – but a page-turner nonetheless. Well-written, faced paced, filled with some superb (albeit incredibly disturbing) plot twists, and… an ending that I did not see coming at all.

After losing my faith in humanity because of “Gone Girl,” I decided to start reading the romantic comedy version of books: a beach read. Sue me (actually, please don’t. I haz no moneyz). I’m in the middle of a novel written by the author of “Something Borrowed,” and while it’s only the third novel I’ve read this semester, it’s still a book that has no legal cases within it. And it’s not scary. And it’s not a children’s book. #success

I’m sure the Rainbow Fish and Karen would be so proud of how far I’ve come in my reading adventures.

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7 thoughts on “Learning How to Read for Fun Again

  1. I do that with my textbook and notes as well. Colourful pens and highlights make it less depressing to read about jurisprudence lol but I agree with you on the reading front. I have so many books on my shelf just waiting to be opened but I can’t find the desire to open them. Maybe this summer hopefully :)

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  2. I’ve recently regained my love of reading in the last year also. So I found your post particularly relatable. :) i feel exactly the same way. Now it’s almost dangerous for me to walk into a library because I’ll be up really late trying to finish the book I walk out with. :) Love your blog!

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  3. I love this post :) Pretty sure I tried dotting my i’s with hearts like Stacey, until I realized how much time it took to write anything!
    Loved Gone Girl, could not put it down, I hope the movie does it justice! How was The Cuckoo’s Calling? Worth a read or no? I’m reading Life After Life right now, recommend for sure!

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    • Thanks! Yes, the hearts above the “i”s! I forgot about that!

      The Cuckoo’s Calling was decent. It moved quite slowly, and even the writing style was so different from the Harry Potter series. I think it was far longer than it needed to be. Gone Girl was much better, IMO.

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  4. Ah, I loved Book Fairs and The Babysitter’s Club too! And I even read the Little Sister series. Same with Sweet Valley High – I covered all bases!

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