essay: reading after loss (i mean law school)

when i was a little kid, i had at least one book under my pillow at all times. when i got into bed at night, i would say goodnight to my parents, listen for them to walk away from my bedroom, then pull the book out from under my pillow, flick on the light, and read until my eyes were too heavy to stay open. note: i am 100% positive they knew i was staying up to read and did not care, but at the time, i felt pretty rebellious.

i still read until i fall asleep most nights. sometimes i do not grasp what i am reading at night because my mind is way more focused on catching some zzzzs than giving the pages in front of me the attention they deserve.

after all, reading is not just about seeing the words: it is about taking notes, highlighting, dog-earing pages, getting paper cuts from flipping back and forth too quickly, and reading and re-reading sentences so many times that the words start to lose meaning. to me, readers do books justice by loving them; this means the particular book has been folded back, its spine has been pushed to its limits. the book has not just been seen, but really read.

once i started law school, i had so much reading to do for homework that i didn’t want to read in my free time. in fact, i wanted to do anything except read. but that led to me feeling seriously deprived. for me, reading, especially fiction, exercises my brain in a way that nothing else can really substitute for. failing to set aside time for myself to read books that were unrelated to school for such an extended period of time left me starving for stories by the time i graduated.

so i bought a bunch of books and got back into it. and it was great. but still, being a “grown up,” my schedule seemingly did not allow a lot of time to read for fun. but i determined that i had a personal choice and the ability to make reading a priority in my life again. here are the steps i took to make that choice:

  1. i found that the falling asleep with a book thing is still my favorite way to read, but it’s not practical when i have to be a real person at work in the morning. occasionally, i get up early and read for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before getting ready for work and it gets my head right at the start of the day; added bonus: i don’t feel reader’s guilt for not getting to my book if i have other obligations at night or am too tired to process what i am reading.
  2. also, i started this blog, which enables me to enhance my reading experience; instead of flying through books, i take more time to delve deeper into the themes, character development, and plots of books so i can create engaging content that interests not only me, but others who enjoy reading as much as i do.
  3. i joined a book club, something i was hesitant to do but am glad i did. hearing other people’s interpretations of books is just as useful as doing my own self-reflection. and it encourages me to read books that i may not have otherwise chosen for myself.

now that i am on the other side of school i am relieved to learn that reading in grown up world doesn’t have to suck and is possible. it takes a conscious effort and, like most enjoyable things in life, you have to work for it. it takes practice and lots of trial and error. for better or for worse, i can’t turn back the clock and return to my childhood bed to read the stash of judy blume books stashed under my pillow or inside the sleeve of my pillowcase. but i can refuse to let go of my love for books and curiosity for stories.

that’s a promise to myself i don’t think i can help but keep.