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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The lost art of reading for fun

<art of most applications, you’re supposed to answer a question about your hobbies. In the past I’ve always written down that I genuinely love reading for pleasure. Growing up, a majority of my summers were spent curled up on the corner of a couch or on my trampoline reading fiction book after fiction book. Books gave me a way to travel to far-off places and meet people much too exciting and engaging to exist in the flesh. It didn’t necessarily matter what the genre of the book was, I eagerly devoured all of them.

Reading also continues to have a calming effect on me; I’m able to get lost in other worlds and not my own. I never realized how much I valued this ability until I got to college more than three years ago and found that reading for pleasure is nearly impossible. We’re all swamped with hundreds of pages of reading a night, and often to get through it all, I find myself plowing through page after page and not necessarily appreciating what I’m reading. Other times, however, I’m just completely disinterested in the subject and long for the days when I could read what I wanted when I wanted. Because of the sheer scope of our course loads at Carleton, it’s almost impossible to keep up with my love of fiction books.
I find this to be really true of most hobbies at school; some have to fall by the wayside. For instance, athletes have the opportunity to keep up with the sports they love, but probably at the expense of other activities they enjoy. I love going to the local animal shelter, but over the years have gone less and less as other demands piled up.

On top of schoolwork and other demands, there are reasons I think I’ve strayed away from reading for fun. Since reading is a solitary activity, I sometimes find myself trying to talk myself out of reading and swap it out for something more “social” in nature. I like to think of myself as an extroverted introvert, and really relish in time I have alone to reflect and feel restored from whatever is going on. It’s important to come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to share your time with people all day long. You can be selfish. In fact I urge you to be selfish. Reading for pleasure is one activity where I am not worried about pleasing another person, or trying to do something to make their day better or more enjoyable. It’s an activity I do for myself and only myself, and there’s something restorative and wonderful about that.

During terms where I don’t have to wake up at 7:30 every day as I do this one, I carved out breakfast alone and sat down with a good book, under ripened melon, and oatmeal with a heaping dose of peanut butter stirred in. Sometimes I feel a little odd sitting alone for a meal, but most of the time I couldn’t care less. I get more from the dialogues in the book I’m reading than I would with anyone at 8:00am in the morning. I need to stop making excuses and pick this back up, for myself. We need to make a conscious effort to do what we love. Skipping a reading to read something you actually enjoy or putting a little less thought into a Moodle post to watch a TV episode won’t make the world stop. On the flip side, it’ll probably make you more at peace on this campus and make it feel like a more comfortable environment.

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