"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Jun 8, 2010


I used to be an obsessive reader. I would have two or three books going at the same time. Every spare moment would be spent reading. My parents would admonish me to set the book down at the breakfast table, worry that I would crack my head open coming down the stairs because I would read while walking around the house. (Years later I put that skill to good use to get homework done while walking to class at Stanford.) I always seemed to need another bookcase in my room, and that was for books on top of everything I read that I got from school for assignments or checked out of the library.

Then I got to college. Homework assignments were much more time consuming there than at my high school. I had brought books with me to read, but I found that between academics and my extracurriculars, I didn't have much time for pleasure reading. And once I started my English major, I was reading for school constantly. I loved my major (and chose it because of the extent to which I loved books), but reading became homework, and I wanted to do something different during my downtime. This feeling only got more intense as I progressed through my BA and earned a MA as well. I loved reading, but I already did it constantly for school -- I didn't feel the urge to read for leisure anymore.

After I graduated and started my MSI, I slowly began to read for leisure again during vacations (there was still no time during the school year!). Mostly I was reading from the bookshelf-sized backlog I'd acquired during the past five years, but occasionally a different book would slip in. Still, since I only really had time for pleasure reading on vacations, I didn't get much done.

But now. NOW. This is definitely one of the ways in which being temporarily semi-unemployed is a blessing. I have so much time to read! I have started devouring books again like I used to -- not three at a time anymore (I stopped that when I realized I couldn't keep all of the plots straight at once!), but with the old easy rapidity. And here in Ann Arbor I am half a country away from that daunting loaded bookshelf, so I feel remarkably free to choose my reading materials. I am trying to select books from a broad range to reacquaint myself with what's out there, especially what's new. So far I've gotten through both Persepolis books, two thrillers set in Stalinist Russia (hopefully a blog post on those is forthcoming), a book of poetry, and Joy Luck Club, among others. And lined up I have a work of modern literary fiction, a horror novel, a YA book, Tinkers (whenever I get far enough up in the hold queue at my library), and The Passage (ditto the note on Tinkers). Going to my internship is dangerous because right now I don't have much desk work, so I spend a lot of time reading book publications like PW and the New York Times book reviews -- which just gives me more things I want to read...

It feels so good to be getting back to reading for pleasure like I used to!

(You will see reviews of some of the books I read on this blog, and you can find notes on many of them as well at my noting: books page.)

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