Read Whatever You Want, Because Who Cares?

I’m a self-professed book-nerd, ask anybody who knows me. I work in a bookstore, I study English literature, I have more books than I could ever imagine reading—and I love telling all these facts about myself to anybody who will listen. Yet, despite all of this, I seem to barely read.

Every few months, especially during the school year, I find myself struggling to concentrate on reading anything that isn’t assigned readings for class. I have piles of books I’ve purchased or borrowed from the library taunting me. Despite wanting to read them, I end up feeling guilty reading one of them when I have other, more important things to read for class. Or, I struggle to find the energy and time to finish a book in my already hectic life if I do manage to pick one up.

Last year, I discovered a trick that helped me finally get through some of the books on my reading list, and ultimately double the number of books I read in a year. Simply put, I stopped caring about what other people thought of what I was reading.

I began to read all the books that I thought were “off-limits” to me because of my age or the fact that they weren’t considered “literary” enough: young adult fiction, children’s literature, comic books. I began reading all of the genres that made me feel like I should hide them because they weren’t long enough or mature enough for someone studying English at university to read. Even the speculative fiction I love had been neglected because of the pressure to read “good literature.”

Well, here’s a little hint: anything is good literature if you enjoy reading it.

Has a children’s book come out that you like the concept of? Read it. Has a graphic novel come out with an interesting narrative and amazing artwork? Read it. It doesn’t matter if a book is marketed towards a certain age or even gender, that book is on the shelf and there is nothing but your own assumptions about it stopping you from enjoying the story inside.

By allowing myself to read things that I had never thought I would or could enjoy reading, I found myself suddenly being able to read the longer fiction on my to-be-read pile that had seemed so daunting before. Reading a children’s novel that I could devour in one sitting gave me the energy to pick up the longer fiction I had convinced myself I didn’t have time to start, let alone finish.

Let yourself enjoy all that the literary world has to offer. If you’re reading for fun, that’s the point: that it’s fun. Why read things you aren’t interested in just because people think you should be reading it? Why keep yourself from reading something you are interested in just because you might not be the intended reader? There is so much wonderful fiction (and nonfiction!) out there if you’re willing to put aside your assumptions and open the cover, so why not give the book you’ve been eyeing the chance?

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