My childhood is filled with fond memories of reading from a very young age. I would continually immerse myself in whatever novel caught my fancy at the time (probably a book from The Magic Treehouse or The New Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley series), switch on my reading light that was attached to my bed frame, and dive headfirst into a story. It wasn’t uncommon for me to stay up well past my bedtime, reaching the end of a cliffhanger chapter and just itching to find out what would happen next. A few chapters turned into a few books in one night. I would either fall asleep with the book in my hands or find just enough energy to place my favourite bookmark in between the pages. Though as the years went on and grade school turned into high school and then university, my schedule became tighter and there seemed to be less hours in the day to read.
Nowadays, I can hardly remember the name of the last book I read for fun. I became an English major because of my love for literature, but from required readings to essays that make me dissect everything I read, it pains me to say that my education has sort of sucked the joy out of reading. Not that I don’t enjoy what I read for school — I’ve come across some great classics and remarkable poetry in my classes — but there is a constant, underlying stress of deadlines and obligations that accompanies these words. Even if I find some rare downtime, my brain is so fried from my academics that I can’t even think of picking up a book and that hurts me. I feel like a piece of me is gone.
So I’ve been searching for ways to rediscover my love of reading. I try to think of some of my favourite books, like A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, and I attempt to remember why I love them so much. I think of the flow of the text across the page, the characters that burst to life with every flip of the page, and more importantly, I try to reminisce about how these books made me feel while reading. I remember that feeling when the lines between narrative and reality start to fade as the edges of my vision blurs when all I can see is the scene in front of me. I try to savour these feelings that I’ve locked away in my memory, and hope that it will give me enough energy to pick up another book and recreate the sensation.
I’ve also begun to accept the fact that this might be my new reality; I might not be able to read as often as I used to, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the joy it still occasionally gives me. Whenever someone asks me what my hobbies are, reading has always been at the top of my list, and I still say it is even though I feel like a fraud. But I’ve come to the realization that just because life has gotten in the way doesn’t mean that books and reading aren’t still a major part of my identity. I can accept that things change. It’s foolish to assume my habits and hobbies from childhood would remain exactly the same. I am the person I am today because of every single book I picked up as a child, and I think if my younger self could see how we turned out, she’d be pretty damn proud of us, despite the lack of reading I’ve done lately.