We here at Cushy like to reflect and practice some self-care on Sunday, hence our #SCS series. But, a lot of the things we’ve talked about for self-care involve things that are active or doing some serious connecting with people. How about staying still, and maybe, slipping into another world for a while? Why not meet up with some characters that you’ve never met, or perhaps you’ve met them repeatedly, but want to keep coming back to them? Might I suggest for this #SCS, you read for pleasure?
As a child, I didn’t read. I lost interest in books really fast, and if it didn’t grab my attention within the first few pages, I wasn’t into it. I was in the advanced reading groups all through elementary school, but I never really picked up books on my own. Sure, I read some Sweet Valley Twins, and read my fair share of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine books, but I just couldn’t get into books. Even in middle school and high school, I read books for school, and some of them I even enjoyed, but I would never have picked up those books had I not been assigned them. So, it would probably seem fairly odd to some when I got to college and finally decided on a major: English Literature. Needless to say, there was a lot of reading happening, and some of it was pleasurable, but none of it was FOR pleasure. That is, until I graduated.
After I graduated, literally two weeks after, I picked up some books at our local used bookstore. I read them all in rapid succession. No one told me to read them, I picked them up simply because I wanted to. It was pretty strange to me, yet here I was devouring books like Steve Martin’s Shopgirl, and the book Thumbsucker (which I read in one day). Finally, reading became an escape, something fun to do on my own, and no one was making me write an essay about it! As time went on, I continued reading more and more, and finally found authors that I adored (David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Stephen Chbosky) and characters I could relate to. I finally understood what all of my bookworm friends were talking about.
When I moved to Portland, I was pretty lonely and had a lot of time on my hands, inevitably I would end up at the bookstore. So, I started buying books. A lot of books. And would read them quickly, absorb them and the worlds they inhabited, and I would move on to my next one. It almost became an addiction, but a great one! I started finding genres that I enjoyed, and connecting with book lovers and being able to talk about books that I had read. I find it so gratifying when I talk to someone and they know what “I feel infinite” from Perks of Being A Wallflower means. It’s like we get each other on a different level, and if you haven’t read the book, you probably won’t get it. I even stumbled upon my favorite book of all time because I had happened upon the author in the bookstore and a random book was jumping out at me. I read that book, which I loved, and went back for anything else that author (Tiffanie DeBartolo) wrote. Little did I know that book would end up my favorite book, God-Shaped Hole, and I would come back to that book once a year after that.
I even started reading books that everyone had read but I never got around to. I devoured The Hunger Games books, all of the Divergent series, and yes, Harry Potter. The magic of reading became incredibly apparent to me while slipping into the world of Hogwarts, and hanging out with Harry, Hermione and Ron. Those books, and those characters felt like friends, and remain that way now. I never would’ve known that if I hadn’t picked up the books one day because I wanted to read for pleasure.
We all have our favorite genres, and they may change over time. I went through a series “Chick Lit” phase. I also love good Young Adult fiction, and stories written by women. Being able to pick up a book, and allow myself the time it takes to get into a characters life, is really wonderful, and indulgent. It is a way to help me recharge and reset myself if and when I need a break from the real world. Whether you want to read literary novels, or graphic novels, comics, fan -fiction, non-fiction or whatever else strikes your fancy, give yourself the opportunity to be still, and enjoy yourself for a while. Trust me, the chores will still be there. Go visit your old friends, or better yet, make some new ones!
Happy Sunday and happy reading.