Avid reader learns to make time to appreciate reading


The musty smell of old books lingers in the air as exuberant chattering is stifled by a muttered “shhh” from the librarian. I sink into a soft couch, run my finger over the edge of a rough page and turn it. The real world fades away as I enter another world, woven into the printed ink of a story. A story of hope and loss and joy, of empowerment and spirit.

If you’re anything like me, the library is a happy place where you can get lost for hours in a tale that is meant to be consumed and devoured until you feel a part of it within yourself.

My earliest memories are of reading, from Bible stories about sheep in preschool, to falling in love with my first novel in first grade: a copy of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” from the YMCA with half the pages ripped out. I remember “stealing” class books to read them during recess, and turning down many playdates because I was too captivated by a novel to put it down.

And yet, reading is a hobby that so few get to enjoy. Whether it be because of homework and tests, or a general lack of time, as we get older, fewer and fewer people take time out of their day to cozy up with a good book. How does one make time to explore such a vast world, when low grades and intense amounts of homework are so prominent?

The first step I’ve taken to regain touch with books is to take advantage of the stolen moments of each day, whether it be pulling a book out of my backpack the second the bell rings and reading a couple pages as I walk to my next class, or attempting to make out words in the harsh sunlight as I wait for my friends to get to the bike cage. My sister likes to use reading apps like “Scribd” and hide her phone under her desk to read, but I’m far more traditional with a few paperback books always shoved somewhere behind my math notebook. I might run into a pole while walking, but, hey, at least I completed that last half of a page.

The second step is going to the library habitually. If I’m stressed about a math exam, I’ll slide over to Mitchell Park, find a couple friends and study there. While I’m waiting for them to move to the next problem or go to the bathroom, I’ll sink my teeth into a new paperback and enjoy snippets of a story.

On any given day, I can be found talking to a librarian and getting some recommendations or just grabbing a book off the shelf, allowing myself be taken on a journey to another world. Books pull me in whenever I dive into them, and I often find myself latching onto them without letting go.

Finally, I’ve assessed my lifestyle and consciously made the decision to cut back on Netflix or YouTube in exchange for more time with stories. When I can take the time out of my day to grapple with the concepts in a story and participate in an adventure filled with vibrant imagery all provided by my imagination, it makes me far happier than any media website ever would.

With books, I am able to give myself the opportunity to paint the blank canvases that lie before me and lay down my emotions into a story. I get to be creative and create a world of my own that no one else will ever even peek into, a world that lies between the dusty confines of a book.

Reading has provided me with the opportunity to explore all kinds of narratives, ranging from stories about swashbuckling pirates to stories about rebellious princesses. I’ve lived a billion roles and fallen in love with a billion characters. Reading has allowed me to hide when the overwhelmingness of reality threatens my happiness.

High school is difficult and stressful, and sometimes I just want to give up, kick my feet back and fly to paradise. Books have allowed me do that without failing all of my classes.