For the Love of Reading
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Health and Wellness

For the Love of Reading

A Thank You to Readers Everywhere

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For the Love of Reading
Annie Spratt

As a child, I really didn't enjoy reading. The words shifted on me and a spent my entire primary school career in special reading classes away from my peers. I never felt like I was good at reading and constantly felt like I was falling behind. No matter how hard I tried, I just didn't get it.

I grew up in a family that consumes literature at a ridiculously rapid rate. Both of my parents and my older sister all love to read and it used to frustrate me that on Saturday mornings, they would all be reading and I would sit there bored. I remember thinking to myself, I want to be like them. I'm so thankful that my family was as supportive and nurturing as they were and still are to this day. I truthfully don't think I would be the student that I am without them. My mother in particular, used to read books with me even when I was in middle school. She encouraged me to keep reading, to try and find stories that interested me. Eventually when I was in 11, I finally found a book that stuck, one that kindled an obsession with reading.

Now, I'm proud to say that like the rest of my family, I am a voracious reader. I never really enjoyed required reading for school minus the few exceptional works that I read in high school. For me, school tended to discourage reading. I was forced to read genres that never interested me. I never once had the opportunity to read a book of my own choosing and give a report on it. I wonder if this is the reason that so many people don't like reading. Is it because it left a bad taste in their mouth?

The truth is, many of my friends don't enjoy reading either. They don't find peace in it the way that I do.

When I am stressed, I read. When I am conflicted, I read. When I need peace, quiet, sanity, or entertainment, I read. When I have the opportunity to spend money on myself, I tend to drive myself to a Barnes and Noble or a used bookstore (my favorite is Book Barn in Denville NJ) and leisurely browse the shelves looking for books. But even as a an adult, I still felt a bit lost because I never really found anyone else who liked reading like I did.

Sophomore year, I started working as a tutor at the Writing Center on campus. For the first time in my life, I had found people who loved reading. Though I only worked there for a year, I had finally found people who understood me, who understood my love for reading, who didn't think it was odd, and who thrived in a discussion of favorite authors.

Many of my coworkers became my very good friends and when I see them after a few days, weeks, or even months, I often find that they contribute to a missing part of my life. Without fail, they say my favorite phrase on this planet, "I have a book recommendation for you".

There are many reasons I value this phrase. First, it means someone read a book and thought of you while reading it. There's a certain level of understanding that goes into something like that. The person who recommends you a book believes they know you well enough that they can give you a memoir, a fiction novel, or a history book.

Second, when a book lover gives someone their copy of a book, they are truly giving you a piece of their soul. Let me explain, when I read a book that I think is more than just pure entertainment, I highlight it and take margin notes. Sometimes when I even read books that are entertaining, like Harry Potter, I'll underline things that I think are full of wisdom. When I read a book that makes me cry, you can see my tears have crinkled the pages.

I'm not exaggerating or romanticizing this, when a book lover gives you a book, it is like giving you a mix tape. It's intimate.

One of my favorite books is the Scarlet Letter. I kept my copy from high school and had some sections underlined. I know I cried when I read it and I'm sure there were tear marks on the pages. That book meant a lot to me, it helped me through a difficult time in my life. I gave that beat up copy of that book to a friend when I felt that she needed more than I did. I explained to her that I wasn't just giving her a crappy copy of an old book, I was giving her wisdom, hope, and an escape from whatever she was struggling with.

So for those of you who love to read, who feel that it is a missing and under appreciated hobby, you're not alone. For those of you who love to read and have given someone your personal copy of your favorite book, thank you for sharing your soul. For those of you who see an old friend and recommend a book, thank you for thinking of us. For those of you who haven't sat down with a book in a while, maybe give it a try. For those of you who have received a book from a reader as a gift, cherish it because it wasn't easy to part with.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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