Reading, the very unappreciated art that it is, is one of my favorite passions. I can’t remember when I started reading books for fun, only that I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. So obviously I have read for a long time. But unfortunately, once I hit sophomore year of high school or so, and began taking more challenging classes, I found that I hit the textbooks more than reading just for the sake of escaping into the world of someone else for a time. And throughout high school and into college, reading books for fun got pushed to the backburner and I found that I read for pleasure less and less, until eventually, I stopped reading all together.
For me, that is a very scary thing (especially when you throw in the fact that I’m a writer myself).
My freshman year of college wasn’t exactly the best experience for me. I found it really trying, at least socially, if not sometimes academically, and I was often discouraged about what I was doing there. And living with someone that made the thought of going back to my own room cringing, didn’t help either. I found that my moods were often foul and depressive, something that hadn’t happen that frequently since my early high school years. I found myself just wanting to escape but had nowhere to go, as even my own room I dreaded to be in. And then it hit me: I had filled my half of the bookshelf with novels, each one complete with unread pages and unrealized narratives just waiting for me to get lost within them.
And so I picked up a novel and began to read.
I can’t remember which book it was or how many followed afterwards, but the change in my emotions and my general happiness was a complete 180. Being able to escape into a story and completely immerse and invest myself in the novel’s narrative was something that I definitely took for granted. I remember being completely awed at how quickly I finished that first book I had read after so long neglecting that hobby; awed of how much I enjoyed the experience and how much better I felt afterwards. I flew through dozens of novels that second semester my freshman year, got a higher GPA than the previous semester (where I told myself I couldn’t read because I needed to focus academically in order to get good grades), and enjoyed it 10 times more than the Fall term.
For me, reading is a therapeutic way to escape from some of the unpleasantries we sometimes face in life and it allows me to live not just this life, but a dozen others. By reading, I can say that I’ve walked to Mordor, I have hailed from District 12 and survived as tribune; I’ve fought in combat, I’ve saved lives, I’ve fallen in love and broken my heart; I’ve been a wizard, a demon, a shapeshifter, a mechanic, a student, a mother. Through reading books, I have escaped and experienced thousands of lives by reading the stories that tell them. And it blows my mind to think that I allowed myself the chance to miss other stories by choosing not to read. Emotionally and mentally, I paid the price.
I hope I never have to pay that price again.
I can happily say that I’ve been on an intense reading kick and just started another book last night. It’s the third new book I’ve started this week. And guess what? It’s only Wednesday. I have been addicted to this simply hobby of reading that I have loved to do my entire life and I have been much happier because of it. Plus, I’ve read some damn good novels that I am glad I didn’t miss!
So, the moral of my story, for now, is that no matter what life you are living, do NOT forsake your hobbies in lieu of other things. Yes, you will have other responsibilities that will demand your attention, like jobs and friends and family and school, whatnot. And I’m not saying to throw all that away and just waste the day away reading. Those things are good things, definitely! What I am saying is to find a balance. Don’t let school or your job keep you from reading the latest bestseller from your favorite author. Don’t say you don’t have enough time to go play a pick-up game of baseball. Don’t say you’re too tired to play a game of cards with the family after a long day at work.
There is a reason we have hobbies. There is a reason that you enjoy reading, writing, playing sports, card or board games, photography, whatever your hobby may be! As the world becomes more fast-paced, it is more important than ever to hold onto the things that you enjoy to do that help you escape from the world. They help keep you sane, they really do. Your hobbies are important: don’t let them go.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I got a demon to kill and a book calling my name. 😉