For the Love of Reading

My heart is back to normal this morning; at least for now, the arrhythmia has passed. It kept me company all day yesterday, but never got bad enough to warrant any real concern. Along with the disconcerting heart rhythm, the uncomfortable humidity of yesterday has lifted. Today is lusciously dry and refreshing, with a bright cheerful sun and vibrant greenery everywhere I look. Saturday’s rain acted like a paintbrush to splash the vegetation with all shades of vibrant greens.

Although it’s Monday, I’m not forlorn in any sort of way, though that is typical of many people heading into the work week. I think the week will be nice and I’m enjoying my work project, so it hardly feels less appealing than alternatives when I’m clocked in and focused on it; what a gift!

I actually didn’t spend any time this weekend working on my jigsaw puzzle (flags of the world). I was busy with my coursework during that time and my ultimate favorite sedentary pastime as of the past year–picking books to request from the various library catalogs I use. I derive nearly as much pleasure, if not more, from the searching, researching, browsing, and review- and synopsis-reading of potential books than I do from actually reading the ones I select and check out. I also love looking at covers and following the circuitous path I’m led down when I click “you may also like” or “recommended authors and titles based on…” options. It feels like I stumble upon a massive buried treasure when I discover a new author with a bunch of penned books I have yet to read but whose work is exactly the type of thing I enjoy. Ah, the neediness of a book lover. It’s all still so ironic to me since I used to despise reading with such a vehement passion. In fact, my difficulty with reading, along with strong repulsion to it, was one of the primary obstacles in loving classes, especially in college, where reading is paramount and a major component of the student’s responsibility in her learning. It’s prevented me from pursuing certain fields and self-educating myself to satiate my curiosity. I still prefer audiobooks to physical or ebooks, but the hurdle I’ve cleared has less to do with improving my reading skills and more to do with training my close-minded brain to understand and appreciate the value of fiction instead of seeing it as a complete waste of time as I used to. Just this past weekend, Facebook “On This Day” memories reminded me of my post about Charlotte’s Web last year and its instrumental role in turning my refusal to read fiction around and causing it to blossom into a fervent passion.

One year later, I’ve read over 350 fiction books since giving one of the least believable (fantasy, if not seen as allegory) books a shot. The vast majority of these have been contemporary fiction and contemporary romance books, not what anyone would argue are high-brow “literature,” but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been worthwhile and truly enjoyable. Perhaps most exciting of all is the fact that I showed myself that I can change and like things I never used to understand and even always hated. If I had held onto my belief that reading fiction was still a total waste of time, I would have missed out on all of the adventures and windows into different, but realistic, lives and worlds I’ve been lucky enough to be privy to in these 350 books. Many nights I’ve been comforted by the lighthearted stories of other women finding themselves or falling in love, sisters reconnecting as adults, mothers and daughters weathering their changing relationships, teenagers coming-of-age, and people healing painful wounds and losses to find ways to take risks to participate in the world again. It’s been a great journey and I look forward to the pages I’ll devour this year.

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