A Love Letter to Reading

When I was a kid I used to read obsessively. It would drive some people crazy, and they would constantly beg me to put the books down, or when that didn’t work, try to shame me into not reading. That also did not work. I’d read in the car, while walking down the sidewalk, at baseball games, at night when I was supposed to be sleeping, under the table at dinner, in the bathroom…I could go on but I imagine you get my point. I imagine some of you were just like me, and that some maybe still are!

I just loved to read. I still do, but it was different back then in some ways. Less distractions, maybe. Fewer responsibilities. It’s easy to spend an entire car ride reading a book when you aren’t the one driving, for example. Or to spend the entire summer reading because you haven’t gotten old enough to need to work yet. So back then I read as much as I could, and it was a lot.

Then eventually came a period of time in my late teens/early twenties when I stopped reading for awhile. I convinced myself it wasn’t “cool” or something ridiculous like that. I chose hanging out with friends and partying over getting lost in new worlds and going on adventures with characters who stole my heart. Interestingly enough, this was the time in my life when I felt the most lost. Looking back on it now I know it was in part because I was denying my soul something it craved. Without reading I was missing a vital part of myself and pretending to be something I wasn’t.

It would not be exaggerating even slightly to say that when I finally stopped trying to be that false version of myself and simply started reading again, everything in life changed for the better.

There are other things in life now to keep me from reading as much as I’d like, of course. Children and jobs, households and relationships to maintain. Countless other hobbies and technology that pull attention and (in some cases) waste time. Reading has now become something many of us have to make time for. And a lot of people don’t make the time. I hear so often from friends who don’t read as much as I do that they can’t understand how I have the time to read so much. (Or the ever so slightly more passive aggressive version: “I wish I had the extra time you have to read so much!” as if I’m not doing all the same things they’re doing in life but just also making time for something I love.) Sometimes I don’t make the time. Sometimes I go entire months without reading at all. But most of the time, I make time to read because I love the way it makes me feel. I love getting to know new characters, and exploring their worlds. I love visiting new places that I would never be able to go to otherwise. I love watching a story unfold around me, trying to guess what might happen next and feeling overcome with emotion when something catches me off guard.

Reading allows me to experience things that are impossible, and to see things through someone else’s eyes. It teaches me empathy and compassion, along with the millions of other facts and details a reader naturally picks up along the way. I can’t imagine, now, never making time for that.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you love about reading. Have you always been a big reader? Do you sometimes struggle to make time to read, or feel guilty for the time you spend reading?

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