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I can’t believe it has already been a month since laying in the sand in Florida. Before the craziness of the Coronavirus, my sister and I got to fly down to visit my grandparents for a week. Since I live in South Bend, Indiana, the choice to go sit on the beach and enjoy the sunshine and the warmth didn’t take much thought. We were lucky with the timing and the weather; and despite being back home stuck in a permanent cold gray cloud, I’m happy to be healthy staying inside. The one thing I do miss, other than the sun, eighty-degree weather and the fresh fruit, was the chance to read for hours on end. 

Every Christmas my grandparents get each of us kids three books of our choice and a Barnes and Noble gift card. In the third grade, I would read a Harry Potter book a day and would stay up past ten to start the next book (I’m really gassing myself up as a real cool girl right now, wow). In the summer of seventh grade, I would read any mystery/romance/drama/fantasy books I could get my hands on. Percy Jackson was my ish. When high school rolled around, homework ramped up and sports got more intense. Besides reading for class, I couldn’t find the time to binge read like I used to. Although, this spring break I went back to my roots and started to binge read again. My grandma took so many pictures of me laying out in the backyard with a book on my face because I fell fast asleep. Naps with a book on your face are just better. I don’t know why. They just are. 

girl lounging relax 3
Kristen Bryant / Her Campus

As my sister and I were laying out on the beach, we got the fateful email, “Campus will be closed for three weeks.” Not what you want to hear when you are enjoying a cloudless beach day. After that, we just weren’t in the mood. My grandma, of course, saw our disappointed looks as we dumped our towels into the laundry room. After relaying the news, I half-joked, “What am I going to do with all this free time?” Dead-pan she replied, “Read.” Well, I was half fishing for her sympathy half genuinely wondering what I was going to do, but I guess now I know what to do. And I can say whole-heartedly that the one-word quip has helped immensely in these anxious times. 

From the day we flew out of the airport back into the gray Indiana atmosphere, I took it upon myself to read just a little bit every day. I thought that with classes ramping back up online, I would have less time to binge read, but I was wrong. After two days of being home, I read two books in two days. It was such a therapeutic experience to have alone time away from the chaos of my siblings and parents all adjusting to this new lifestyle. I got to spend hours in my room to just be with my own thoughts and those of the author as well. After finishing the first two books, I wondered to myself, can I do seven books in seven days? 

Woman Wearing Brown Shirt Carrying Black Leather Bag on Front of Library Books
Abby Chung

And I did. I stayed up way too late reading these books, but I couldn’t put them down. These were the cheesy teen romance books that I left at home, but I absolutely ate them up. The hopeless romantic story-lines—the brave girl that was somehow both absolutely beautiful and stubborn and smart all in one. Of course, I know that if you plow through a book you sometimes miss the beauty of it all, but this type of reading was an escape from house arrest. It was a time to de-stress. It was a time to be reminded of the beauty of myself and others. It was a chance to reflect on who I want to be. I want to be that beautiful, stubborn, smart girl that lets no one or thing get in her way. I want a love that is based on respect and loyalty (cheesy, maybe).

Do I recommend that you read seven books in seven days? Yes and no. Definitely read. That is blunt (just like grandma), but I highly recommend an escape from everything through the pages of a book. This isn’t a PSA for reading, but I know it has helped me take time for myself in this time being in such close quarters with my family. It has helped me self-reflect and weirdly has given me a new outlook on love and relationships that I never really thought about before. Am I going to shoot my shot now just because I read a couple of books? Of course not. One, I don’t know how (I will take any advice); and two, I’m still the same old shy me. These books are miracle workers, but they aren’t magic. But maybe they will inspire a change in you! Maybe they will give you the time to just be with you. I know a book isn’t a walk on a beach, or a hug from a friend, or a night out with a date, but it is a chance to escape the reality of the scary times we are in. So thank you, books. 

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