There was a time when reading for fun didn’t exist for me. It existed once, in the days of Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games, but the minute I entered ETHS that all went out the door. I could argue that there just wasn’t time, but the reality was that I became swept up in other things—Netflix and Hulu things.
That was until April of 2020, a glorious time if you can recall. Bored out of my mind, I organized a book swap with a friend. I put a few books in a paper bag and carried them to our meeting spot, setting them down 6 feet away and stepping back to let her do the same. After my new books sat in my garage to “let the germs die” I uncovered my borrowed bounty. In my haul was The Davinci Code, with Mona Lisa’s eyes staring at me from the cover.
The book was huge, and for someone who haven’t read anything in quite a while, you could say I was daunted. So, I went a different route and downloaded the audiobook instead. The mammoth book in audio form became a pill I could swallow. I walked, painted, baked, just living my pandemic life with the book playing in background. That was it. I was hooked.
I have read 38 books since then. Which isn’t a lot to some, but it’s immense progress for me. I read steadily through my junior year, but my pace quickened as my senior year commenced. The more stressed I became, the more I wanted to read. It became this little hide-out that I could go to, a distraction from all the stress I was feeling. The relationships of the characters were not mine to control, so I could relax and simply watch the story unfold.
Reading offers a sense of control. I get to be in charge of when and what I read, and when I finish a book, I feel accomplished. Who doesn’t like feeling accomplished? Reading helped me fix the issues I had with time management, I spend less time looking at a screen, which is all around a positive thing, and I have a better grasp on literature as a whole. These are all subtle changes, but they are constructive changes nonetheless. I can’t say what would have happened if I didn’t start reading for fun, but I’m glad I did. It was the thing that helped me get through the past few years, and it offered some consistency during a inconsistent time.
Some of my favorites include:
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger– A gripping magic realism romance, by an ETHS alum.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green- A science fiction story that is equal parts mysterious and hilarious.
Tenth of December by George Saunders– Emotionally riveting short stories
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- It starts fun and then gets dark, depressing, and erie. It deals with mental illness in 1950s. This is not a feel good story.
Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion- A 1960’s Californian fever dream
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid- This horror book follows the psychology of a nightmare, proceed with caution.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- A classic, need I say more?
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel – A magic realism romance set in Mexico in the early 20th century. The story revolves around food, family and love.
Cather in the Rye by JD Salinger- For a book with no plot, this story is incredibly entertaining.