Rediscovering my Love of Reading

When I was younger, I was always reading. I can only assume I used it as a form of escape as that is the very reason I like reading now. I had nothing to hide from, I realise I've had quite an easy life but I always enjoyed seeing other peoples view points and being taken away from whatever drama was happening at school. Reading was something I could enjoy and that I chose to do rather than being forced to do, like you are with so many other things whilst you are young.

Reading isn't a subject you can take at school, nor is it a job, but I knew I wanted to include it in my future some how. Whilst I was at school, I never knew what I wanted to be. Some people have the drive and ambition to go into a specific job role but I always changed my mind pretty much every week, I think I still do that to some extent. When I was getting ready to leave Uni, I still had no idea what I wanted to do, all I knew was that I was graduating and I needed money. I think this is an increasing trend within young people so I don't feel bad about my current situation but I think it is something that should be considered more within education. We are pushed hard at school just to be good at everything and qualified in nothing.

I remember when shit first got real. I had to sit down and decide what I wanted to do for my GCSE's. Of course you don't have a choice with the basics but the other four subjects are completely up to you. This is your first stage of independence and really working out what you want to do. Then two years later you have to refine your choices even more, only taking four subjects in total. I picked a very science based A-Level course with one exception, English. I hadn't always loved it but as I grew older, I learnt to appreciate it. English was the stand out subject for me during my GCSEs and A Levels. I had an incredible teacher who really helped me develop instead of making me feel like a dumb ass and that alone made me progress in the subject. I had always enjoyed reading but I wasn't always as good at the writing part.

During those 4 years of doing my GCSE's and my A-Levels, I made it my mission to read as many book as I could: ranging from classics, to biographies, to romance, any book I could get my hands on I would read. One year I challenged myself to undertake the 50 book challenge created by The Guardian which I really wanted to complete. I didn't manage it but I certainly came close. All of this reading improved my writing until eventually English became my best subject.

When the time came I knew English was the subject I wanted to pursue at University. I had never questioned whether University was something I really wanted to do, it just seemed like the next logical step. Plus my school really pushed you to go to Uni. I remember someone in my tutor group saying they didn't want to go and all hell broke loose. It was as if he was saying he had murdered someone, my school just couldn't believe that someone wouldn't want to go. Looking back on it, I am pleased to say I wouldn't change my University experience. I think it was important for me socially, more so than the actual education part of it. When I sit down and consider the person I was before I went to Uni, I have changed a whole lot since then. One thing that has changed since school, in a negative way, is the way I feel about literature.

Over the course of the three years that I completed my degree, my love of literature left me. I remember someone telling me that when you are picking your degree, make sure you love it when you start because by the end you will hate it and I couldn't agree more. I loved English but after a while, any enjoyment was sucked out of me as you literally think about it all day at uni. During my first year it wasn't too bad but by the final year I couldn't wait for it to end. My dissertation was hands down one of the hardest projects I have ever completed, I am very proud of it but it was very difficult.

By the end of my degree, I felt drained. I never wanted to look at a book or write an essay again! Let alone get a job in it. Before University I couldn't understand why people never seemed to use their degree after they had worked towards it for so long but after I completed my degree I had never understood it so clearly. You work so intensely for 3 years, that by the end it seems like freedom to not have to do it anymore. After uni I went straight into working within retail. Sometimes I regret this and wish I had done something with my degree but in the back of my mind, I know I couldn't have as I was just so exhausted with it all.

I think my outlook started to change when I went back to writing my blog regularly, which was over a year ago now. I've had this blog for around 4 years but it was only around a year and a half ago that I really got into it. At the time, I felt like I needed a creative outlet. I wanted to start writing again as I really did miss it but I wanted to talk about something I was interested in. When I first started writing again it felt foreign to me but now I love it and I am so glad I have my little corner of the internet to talk about beauty and to create content. I don't have the chance to do anything creative in my current job so it is nice to be able to have it as a hobby and to use my degree to a certain extent.

One thing that I haven't managed to get back into is reading. Don't get me wrong, I've read books since I finished my degree but I never really found the enjoyment in it that I did when I was younger. Plus with the books that I have read since my degree, it had taken me an age to finish them. This year I wanted to make a change so I have been trying to rediscover my love of reading, I figured it had to be somewhere, I just need to find it. It has been long enough since I graduated that I don't feel overwhelmed by just looking at a book so I thought this year I might actually be able to open one.

I always enjoyed reading as unlike TV, it uses your brain. You have to use your imagination to create the visuals hidden within the blocks of text in front of you. It uses your mind in a creative way and gives you a brief period of stepping into another world. Reading gives the ability to live thousands of lives. To get me back into reading I decided I needed to go back to what made me love it in the first place. There are two books which really stand out in my mind: The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird. They are the two books that evoked emotion and had me hooked. Unfortunately The Great Gatsby is still off limits. My dissertation was based on F. Scott Fitzgerald and I have struggled with reading his novels ever since. I read The Beautiful and The Damned and I struggled, it took me so long to read it as I had to take constant breaks. In total, I would say it potentially took me an entire year to get through it. After that I decided to revisit To Kill A Mockingbird, a true classic written by Harper Lee. It is emotive and well ahead of its time when you really consider the topics discussed. All of these topics are seen through the narrative of a young girl, who for the most part, doesn't understand but the story has stuck with me. I originally read it when I was young, too young to understand it but the way it is written and the poise of the novel always makes me want to search for a book that makes me consider my outlook on life as much as this novel did. I have just started reading it again and it is definitely taking me much longer than it used to, to finish a book but I have really been enjoying it.

The content that I read has change over the years, I used to focus more on books but these days I read magazines and blogs with the occasional book thrown in. However I do want to start getting back into books. I have so many books that I haven't read on my shelf so eventually I hope I will start reading them. However I think the best place for me to start is by revisiting books I already know and love. It is a bit early for me to claim that my love of reading has completely returned but I can definitely say I have found the enjoyment and escapism that I once loved about reading prior to my degree.

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  1. Thank you for this thoughtful post. It's clear that you're on the path to going full- circle as you re-discover reading and the joy it brought. Also, you've reminded me that I need to make more of an effort to read and finish more books, more often:)


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