During college, I thought I lost my ability to read fiction. I barely had time to read anything not school-related, and when I did, I couldn’t find the right balance of focus and relaxation to allow me to plow through a mystery or novel like I could in the past. I still read the Bible and a few other books you might find in the “Christian Living” section of the bookstore, but you’d rarely find me reading for fun. I could read novels for the English classes I took, but I was always making intertextual connections and identifying premonition and analyzing things from a historical perspective, which, although I enjoyed it, was far from relaxing.
I loved to read as a kid and took pride in calling myself an avid reader. (Other people had other names for this tendency.) In college, I could usually still count on being one of the only people in a room who had read the book that the period movie we were watching was based on. But I worried that my pleasure reading days were over forever.
After graduation, when our post-graduation chaos had subsided and I was still waiting for my sub applications to go through, we began getting a lot of Hercule Poirot dvds from the library (and forgetting to return them on time, making the free library rental idea much less worthwhile). After watching a few of these dvds, I decided to venture back to the bookshelf and pulled a Poirot mystery from the shelf. I read half of it that night and finished it the next day. Whew! I was glad to find out that my fiction aversion had subsided as soon as forced reading subsided.
For a while, I thought that I was going to have abundant time to read, sitting at home in my immaculate house, waiting for the phone to ring and take me to work. This is not the case. I am still capable of making a big enough mess each day to keep me busy whenever I have free time, and I’ve been working so much that I’ve had to refuse jobs to catch up on things at home. But, I do have the luxury of deciding what to do when I get home each day, and I am confident that this will include reading.
After Poirot, I started a nonfiction book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsovler. One benefit of forgetting how to read fiction was discovering my love of nonfiction. Now, I’m on to Mansfield Park, a Jane Austen novel I’ve read before. I imagine I’ll keep alternating between fiction and nonfiction to keep my mind sharp.
What’s been on your reading list lately?