The Enjoyment of Reading

I remember being 10 years old, curled up on a down-filled comforter that was laid out on the floor under my bedroom window, with a stack of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, on a rainy summer day. I remember just laying here, losing myself in each book joining Laura, Mary and the rest of the Ingalls clan on their adventures on the open plains. I remember with every book I was able to transport myself into a new adventure, where the story weaved old and new characters into the plotline and creating my own movie reel in my imagination. I remember reading the entire series that summer, and to this day, I can still feel the softness of the comforter under my back, the smell emanating from the book as I turned the pages and how much enjoyment I had from those books.

From the time my mom read to me as a small child through adulthood, I find the joy and satisfaction of a good book. Needless to say, reading has always been a large part of my life. Normally, I can be found juggling a couple of different books at any given time, whether it is a heavy drama while I wait for an appointment or cheeky “chic lit” as I lay in the sun, to a good audiobook for road trips, there is always a book at my fingertips. 

When people find out how much I read and how much I love to read, normally I get presented with a couple of standard statements and/or questions, the first being: “I just can’t get into reading.” While I cannot expect everyone to enjoy reading as much as I do, reading can still be enjoyed by you on the level that you allow yourself to enjoy that time with a book. Unfortunately, I feel the statement of “I just can’t get into reading” is sadly something that we may all have unconsciously learned during our formative years in school. Think back to high school English or Literature class, how many times were you required (ok, let’s just be honest, forced) to read books that may not have sparked your interest and it may have left a sour taste with bad memories of trudging through books that didn’t tempt our fancy. I know there are many of you out there nodding your heads in agreement and you know exactly what I am talking about. Here is the beauty of it though, as adults, we can make our own decisions on what kind of books we want to read. I know, a novel concept (no pun intended), but trust me on this, you no longer will you be required to write a paper on this book and you don’t have a deadline to finish it. You can pick any book that sparks your interest, whether it is the latest non-fiction on the American Revolution or the sauciest grocery store paperback novel, the point is that the choice is yours. Half the battle is finding something that you would want to read.

The second question/statement I always get is “How are you able to concentrate on reading?” or “I get distracted too quickly.” Reading does take effort, but you need to make the time to put your phone down, turn off the TV, find a comfortable space and allow yourself the time to relax and read. When you allow yourself to be distracted, you will be distracted. When you allow yourself not to be distracted, then you won’t be distracted. Reading allows you to take that breath, to turn off all those distractions and just breathe. Think of it as a type of mediation for you to calm your mind and body. 

The last statement I hear is “I don’t have time to read,” in an era of cell phones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, etc. there isn’t an excuse NOT to have a book at your fingertips. Yes, I know, I sound like I am contradicting myself, but I would be foolish not to acknowledge that while our smartphones are a source of distraction, they can also be a source of reading pleasure as well! So, if you don’t want to travel with five books, the electronic world has opened a whole world of reading right at your fingertips. I also make a concerted effort to read in my life. This past year I have been proactively striving to incorporate our core value of balance into my life, and part of finding that balance is doing things I enjoy. To me, there is nothing more enjoyable than reading. Too many times in the whirlwind of work, social engagements, and let’s face it, life in general, that you suddenly find things out of sync and a bit “topsy-turvey”. Making the time to read allows me to just take time for myself, to help find that calm in the storm.

Do I expect you to go out and begin to love reading as much as I do? No, but I do hope you take the time to explore the possibility of picking up a book, reading it and see where it takes you. You might even surprise yourself and think “Huh, I really enjoyed that book!”

Nikki Kawalec, ZY

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