Confession: I used to be a huge bookworm.
I taught myself to read when I was young. (Before you give me too much credit, my parents read to me every night from the time I was a baby, and I know that I picked up a lot of my reading comprehension from that activity.) If my memory serves, it was when I was around the age of 6 that I had a reading primer that I carried around with me, sounding out letters and picking out the familiar pieces. It didn’t take long to start piecing together words out of letters, and soon sentences out of words.
And then? I was hooked.
You couldn’t take me anywhere without a book. My parents severely limited the amount of television I watched (one show during the week, and one on the weekend – thanks, mom!), so I had lots of time to be a kid – I ran around outside and played with my dogs, kept myself entertained for hours in some part of my imagination or other, and read voraciously.
This carried on through elementary school and into middle school. Even when I entered high school, I kept my face in one book or another – AP English classes, stuff I read on my own, books my parents kept on the bookshelves at our house – it was all fair game. When I was in high school, I worked at an art gallery during semester breaks, and I read behind the counter when no customers were around; those summers, I would tear through a novel every day.
Then, college hit. I was in the Honors program at JMU my freshman year, as well as being in the marching band and the countless hours of required classes and ensembles for my major. I stopped reading for pleasure, because I simply had too much other work to do. My hours were precious, and usually spent in the basement of the music building.
Cue graduation from college, starting a teaching career, and the years that passed afterwards…
Somewhere along the way, I lost my love of reading. It got delegated to the “things that take time I don’t have” list, and started to gather dust. There have been several attempts to pick back up where I left off over the past decade, but none have stuck.
Now? It’s time for a change. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why it’s important to spend your life learning, and reading is a huge part of that for me. To be a great writer, one must consume vast quantities of great literature, and success points to those who take time to read. I read a blog article recently that indicated that the most successful writers and bloggers usually read a book a week.
Just this morning, I read a Matt Madeiro post titled “How to Start Reading” – a timely reminder that building a habit has less to do with forcing yourself to get back into something, and more to do with taking small, consistent, achievable steps in the right direction. If you’re having a hard time finding your way back into your reading habit, I highly recommend that you pop over and read that article.
I’m taking bigger steps right now. I’m reading a Paul Theroux book at the moment, in preparation for my cross country Amtrak trip to Portland, OR. I leave in a couple of weeks, and I want to write about the trip – the Theroux is providing amazing motivation.
And, in the name of continuing education, I have a stack of yet unread books awaiting my hungry eyes. This is one restart that I intend to keep rolling – even if I have to go so far as scheduling in time for reading, it’s important enough that I’ll do it.
How about you, dear reader? What have you been reading recently, or are you like me and in need of a restart?
If so – small steps. Or big steps. Whatever works for you – just start!