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My Reading Problem

How a year of college has impacted my ability or desire to read for pleasure.

I can’t figure out what’s happened to me.  I used to read all the time.  I’ve always been known as a voracious reader of just about any book I can get my hands on.  As far back as I can remember, books have been my constant companion.  But now, I can’t bring myself to even start a book.

It sounds like a silly complaint and talk about a "first world" problem!  But it has been really bothering me.

I just finished my first year as a full-time college student.  In the beginning, I had to constantly stop myself from reading non-school related books to concentrate on the looming pile of textbooks.  One reason behind my decision to return to college is that I often read textbooks “for fun” so I thought “Why not get college credit for it?”  But now that I was assigned the books and had to read them, they weren’t so appealing.  It's human nature, I guess.

I did manage to squeeze in a few “outside” books during the year.  I flew through the Hunger Games trilogy.  In spite of the dark subject matter, it seemed upbeat when compared to my Anatomy & Physiology or US History readings.  I also picked up a novel by an author who has an “investigative” show on the History Channel.  It was one of the very few times that I just quit reading when I was about three-quarters of the way through.  I found that I just didn’t care about what happened at the end of the book and my textbooks were suddenly more interesting.  That’s definitely an anomaly.

So now I’m on summer break and I have no more textbooks taunting me, although I still have this residual nagging feeling that I should be working on homework.  But there is no homework pending and I am free to read anything I please.

But I don’t.  The idea almost seems foreign to me now.  I forget that I can read something for pleasure.  I went to the library and picked out a few interesting titles.  My sister loaned me a couple of books that I’ve wanted to read.  Normally I would be inhaling them by now.  But they sit here, night after night, unopened.  Why is that?

At first I was attributing it to “homework hangover.”  I was so burned out from a particularly difficult quarter that I needed a break.  But I feel like I should be over that now.

Maybe I need to get back into the habit of reading for pleasure.  I’ll make some time and I am pretty sure that once I get engrossed in a good book (and I have a few good ones patiently waiting) my reading “problem” will be resolved.  It’s pretty funny to me that I need to make myself read!

I just need to hurry it up.  Summer will fly by and if I don’t get in at least a few good books, school will be starting up and pleasure reading will go by the wayside once again.

Do you have any good books you would recommend?  Any summer reading lists you would like to share?  Thanks!

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Akiko Oda June 29, 2012 at 09:29 PM
After reading countless pages of textbooks and handouts in college, I find myself burnt out on reading for pleasure. But I did read the "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" this spring and finished it within a week! I'm having a harder time getting through the sequel though... I'd love to hear some good summer reading suggestions too!
Nicole Caldwell June 29, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I recently finished (and highly recommend) Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls - she also has a memoir out called The Glass Castle that has phenomenal reviews. A few months back I finished Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - one of the most well-written books I've ever come across, but a lot of 'book' at over 600 pages... well worth it, though!
Michelle Smith June 30, 2012 at 01:30 AM
How funny, Akiko. "The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo" is one of the books my sister loaned me and the one I'm most looking forward to reading. I've heard such good things about it.
Michelle Smith June 30, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Nicole, I haven't heard of "Half Broke Horses" but I appreciate the recommendation. I will look for it. I have heard excellent things about the Steve Jobs book and I love biographies so I had that on my list. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, too. Makes me want to read it even more.
Mark Hoppen July 05, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Just wait until you get a doctorate...reading patterns warped in perpetuity :)
Michelle Smith July 09, 2012 at 05:06 PM
That seems so funny (and a little ironic) that more education will cause a decreased desire to read for pleasure. I can't even imagine how many hours of required reading go into a doctorate!!
Mara Kramer July 13, 2012 at 10:26 PM
The Book Thief by Mark Zusak is a personal favorite of mine. In my AP Language and Composition class, my independent reading partner and I chose that as our book and we instantly fell in love with it. It's written during WWII era and interestingly enough focuses more on the German perspective and how every German wasn't an "evil, heartless Nazi." A favorite factor of mine is that it is also written from the perspective of Death. Definitely one that I'll recommend over and over!
Michelle Smith July 16, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I have actually read "The Book Thief" and I am so glad you mentioned it. It's all those things you described. Very unique. I finished it and wasn't sure what I thought about the book. But it kept popping up in my head and I found myself thinking about the story and the characters. I decided that I liked it very much. Only a few books affect me that way and they always end up as some of my favorite reads. So I second Mara's recommendation of this book! :)

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