As an adult who reads, I often find myself in the minority. To be fair, I also found myself in the minority as a kid who read, but that had more to do with the specifics of my tiny school than it did with the demographics of those who read. The reality is that reading is more of a kid’s game than an adult’s. And that makes sense. I mean, for myself right now, between work, school, writing, and kids, the time I have available for reading falls into that brief period between getting through the craziness of the day and when I pass out in my bed.
For many of us, the idea of going from the hectic day to trying to use the brain to imagine fictional realms is just too much extra effort and it makes a lot of sense that the normal pre-bed activity for many adults today is to simply stare at a phone or tablet screen and hope you put it down on your nightstand before you smack yourself in the face again because you fell asleep holding it.
I love reading, but I know that it takes me quite a bit after getting into the reading position to actually be able to start reading a book. If it’s a new book, or a book I’m not particularly getting excited for, I will actually find that I’ve spent the first few pages of the book reading the words, but not actually taking in what has been happening because I’ve had a part of my brain still thinking about the past day or the things I need to do tomorrow.
But, here’s the cool thing. Once I finally get myself past all that hyper-thought and am able to completely lock into the book, it’s quite easily the most relaxing part of my day. While skimming through Facebook can bring about all sorts of super-real emotions because I’ll come across a friend’s hate-filled tirade, causing me to feel all the stress of their hate in a few brief sentences, reading allows me to melt into a story that, once I actually get going, allows the real world to completely disappear. It’s even better if I’ve got my headphones going and am able to block out the sounds of the real world as well.
It’s like a virtual reality headset, where I might be aware of the real reality beyond the virtual one, but I’m so completely invested in the virtual one I’m a part of, that it’s difficult to see anything past that.
With all of that being said, I also want to note how long it took me to get back into reading as an adult. By the time I started college twenty years ago, I had been burnt on too many terribly written books, and was so overwhelmed with the newness of being a person who had to work full time while also attending college classes and doing homework, that when I actually managed to have free time, I simply wanted to hang out with friends until the sun came up. I didn’t read for nearly a decade, at least not with any sort of regularity.
It probably wasn’t until I was waiting for the birth of my first child, nearly ten years later, that I started picking up the hobby again. And even then, it was a difficult transition. I had gotten annoyed with the habit of watching TV until my eyes gave out, and had a book I had been wanting to read for a while (long since forgotten). So, I went to the library, checked out the book, brought it home, and put it on my nightstand to start reading it. It probably took me two months to get through that first book, as I couldn’t bring myself to want to effort on reading most nights.
And now, over twelve years later, I read every night, have a constantly shifting giant pile of books on my nightstand and a kindle filled with hundreds of books, that I simply can’t wait to dig into. At the start of the pandemic, I even scheduled myself a half hour during every day to just sit back and read, so as to break away from the terrifying world we live in for just a few minutes.
If life weren’t nearly so hectic, I think I could spend hours every day just sitting back and reading, probably while laying in a hammock under the sun.
And I would have never gotten back to this point if I hadn’t taken the effort to actually work to remind myself how much I absolutely love to read.
So, if you’re someone who used to have the habit, and haven’t read a book in ages, I suggest pushing yourself to get back into it. It is quite simply my favorite part of the day, even if it is just a race against my exhaustion winning out and me falling asleep.