Written by Kendall Talbot
Winter break is, for most college students, a time to sleep, travel, and catch up with friends and family. While I did enjoy all of those activities this past winter break, I used the majority of my time to finally tackle the precarious stacks of unread books that have been slowly taking over my room over the last several years. For four weeks I sat curled up on a loveseat next to my family’s synthetic fireplace, drinking coffee in the early hours of the morning and multiple cups of hot chocolate thereafter, each with a layer of at least twelve marshmallows always coating the top to trap the heat. I wanted to feel warm and cozy while reading. I wrapped myself in fuzzy blankets and the musings of imagined characters for hours, and I managed to finish six sizable books, which is quite a feat considering how slowly I read. Looking back, I realize those four weeks spent doing nothing but reading were the most relaxing and rewarding weeks I’ve experienced in a long time. Because the truth of the matter is that I never have enough time to simply read a book anymore.
Of course, as an English major, I read books all the time for class. I learned very quickly, however, that reading for school is drastically different from reading for pleasure. When we read for pleasure, we want a good story. We want to get sucked in, off of whatever bed, bench, or loveseat we’re currently sitting on and into that other, and most likely better, reality. But becoming completely engrossed in a book can be extremely difficult and even tedious when your reading time is constantly interrupted by the incessant demands of a busy life. And these days we all seem to lead exceptionally busy lives. When I was in high school, I would read all the time. And before that, in middle school, I would read even more. I’ve noticed that, as I pass onto each new phase of my life, the spare time in which I would usually be able to sit down with a good book is ever-shrinking. I sometimes fear that after I graduate from college, I’ll be forced to give up reading for pleasure entirely. After all, there will be no more winter breaks for me to dedicate to the unsurmountable collection of books piling up in the dusty corners of my life.
But then I think, of course I could never give up reading. Because that would mean reading is something I can live without, and if you’re an avid reader you know this is the greatest impossibility. (To live my life—however busy it may be—without books? Inconceivable.) So we find the time, and if we can’t find it, we make it. Instead of scrolling through our emails or social media feeds while waiting in line at Starbucks, we are reading. Instead of watching another episode on Netflix in between homework assignments, we are reading. We make time on the bus, over dinner, in those precious ten minutes before bed. It isn’t easy, it isn’t ideal, but when has anything worth our dear, diminishing time ever come without a little effort or sacrifice? My advice: surround yourself with books. Keep one in your backpack, in your car, in your refrigerator. Okay, maybe not in your refrigerator, but definitely in a spice cabinet. That way, wherever you are, whatever you’re busy doing, you can always stop, take a break, and read.