The finer points of reading for pleasure

Sunday, November 8, 2015 - 6:57pm

There’s no doubt that, at this point of my life, time is limited. I have a never-ending to-do list and as a result, I surrender one of my most treasured and beloved hobbies — reading for pleasure.

By no means am I suggesting that I have been deprived of reading. My syllabi provide me loads of reading opportunities. I have enough textbook reading to last me the rest of the semester. But reading for pleasure? I have put that off for months now, and I have been deprived of delighting in this hobby. So I decided to write about it.

I miss my reading chair, my reading lamp, my infinite stack of books begging me to spend hours, days, weeks reading them. I miss going to Barnes & Noble, stocking up on books and actually reading what I have so meticulously picked out. I miss the satisfaction of concluding an engrossing and captivating story, just to be instantly transported into another.

As I flashback to the days of elementary school, I catch a glimpse of the opportunities for pleasure reading that I didn’t appreciate. Our allotted afternoon reading time, our library trips, our book fairs — my third grade self didn’t know this precious time would be taken away and nearly impossible to get back.

On Fridays, I go to an elementary school in Detroit and read with fourth grade students. My visits with them remind me how amazing literature is. Every student gets something different out of the story, but they are all equally excited and passionate about their discoveries. If I can’t read for fun on my own, at least I can enjoy my time watching them do so. For now, reading through children’s books is all I have.  

From May to August, during the long-awaited summer vacation, I’m driven to read as many books as I can without assignments hindering this pursuit. The satisfaction tends to wear off a few months into the semester, when I know it has been too long since I've done this. We’ve reached that point.

My reading for pleasure is equivalent to the rest of the population’s love for TV series and movies. I don’t binge watch TV, I binge-read books — and having to do without this hobby for most of the academic year is more than disappointing. It’s defeating.

The problem is that even if I make time for some light reading, it’s just not the same. Part of the joy derived from pleasure reading is the peace of knowing that is all you have to do. Hours and hours filled with reading books of my choice, like prose, historical fiction, even plays. The freedom and bliss of this hobby is found in your willingness and ability to enjoy it.

For now, I’ll just have to continue piling my list of “must read” books, like Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman,” Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” and maybe even round two for “Harry Potter,” when the opportunity presents itself to indulge. Until then, I’ll just have to enjoy some reading of “Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding.