I was always a “big reader.” You know the kind of girl, the one who would stay up reading with a flashlight and never go anywhere without a book in hand? Yeah, well, I was that girl. I specifically remember buying bags in middle school of the perfect size so that I would be able to tote around whatever novel I was reading at the time. But then, something tragic happened. High school. As homework began to eat up more and more of my night, I became too tired to fit in my previously ritualistic 15-30 minutes of reading before falling asleep. I made excuses for myself in order to tamp down the rising guilt: I would read over the summer, or I was making up for my lack of novel reading with the amount of academic reading I was doing every night for homework. The fact of the matter is that I was allowing one of my favorite escapes from stressful reality to slip, slowly but surely, from my life. Everyone knows that it’s not healthy to let school keep you from doing what you love, but, as I’m sure we all know here, that’s much easier said than done. To be honest, I don’t believe any of my friends at Marlborough read regularly for their own pleasure, simply because they can’t find the time.
This summer I worked a job in Canada that required a lot of sitting and waiting. There was no television or wifi (yes, it was exactly as traumatic as it sounds). As a result, I was forced to read. And read I did. I read five books in two months, not because I had to for school or because I thought it would help me get into college. At first, it was because there was nothing better to do. But then after a little while, I started to read because I wanted to. I would read on the job, but then I’d also read during my free time, when I could have taken a nap or just chilled and listened to music. I began to engage in literary conversations with some bookworms with whom I worked. We’d exchange recommendations, talk about our favorite authors, and discuss the themes and messages of the books we read.
Since the start of the school year, I have been adamant about continuing to read for my own pleasure. I’ve started reading again every night before sleep, and it has changed my life for the better. I now sleep better, and I can relate everyday life stuff and school stuff to the books I read. During a recent Morning Meeting at Marlborough, students were shown a video called “This is Water,”, narrated by David Foster Wallace. It just so happened that I was reading a book by him at the time, and as such, I felt that I was able to better understand the message of the video and could appreciate the message more than I would have been able to had I not started reading again. Reading has broadened my perspectives and given me something to look forward to at the end of a long school day, a way to spend my time that is more valuable than an hour of trolling Buzzfeed or watching an episode of “30 Rock.” I know so many girls who have professed to me that they used to be addicted to books in elementary school but haven’t read a book for fun during the school year since middle school due to lack of time. If this sounds like you, then I urge you to start reading again. Force yourself to read. Don’t let it become a chore — let it become a habit. Carve out a time in your day for books, even if it means getting 15 minutes less of sleep. It will be worth it, I promise. Rediscover that which gave you joy in your earlier years, and it just might change your life.