I’ve always been somewhat of a bookworm. When I was a kid you could often find me sprawled out on my bed with one of The Babysitter’s Club series or maybe some Roald Dahl. Sometimes I’d even go sit under a tree in the backyard because I thought it was a romantic place to sit and immerse myself in a fantasy world. I envisioned my would-be prince Charming would find me under that tree and sweeping me away some day. In high school I transitioned to the local coffee shop, actually a number of local coffee shop that would let me sit and chain smoke and lose myself in John Steinbeck or e.e. cummings or J.D. Salinger. Those teenage years really helped solidify my love for literature. I excelled in Language Arts classes even given my tendency for rebellion, and I devoured almost every book I was assigned. In college I continued down the path, knowing almost immediately I wanted to major in English Literature (although I toyed with creative writing for a while, I’ve found I’m better evaluating and appreciating the work of others than creating my own).
Since I left college and subsequently graduate school, I haven’t given up reading, although I don’t consume nearly as many books as I used to. When I was working full time I often felt there wasn’t the time to read, and now that I’m unemployed I tend to think of reading as a guilty pleasure that I shouldn’t always indulge in. I am trying to change that mindset however, because reading truly does give me pleasure, and aside from that it helps to keep my mind sharp and fuels both the creative and logical sides of my brain. While I like to read as much as possible, spending money on books isn’t always an option. Because of that, I’ve taken a few different tactics in order to satisfy my desire for fiction.
- Go to the library. I’ve been frequenting my local branch of the Denver Public Library, which is a short bike ride away. The system encourages you to read quickly because you have to return books in a timely manner, and with the online system it’s a piece of cake to request any book. Yes, sometimes there’s a waiting list (I’m number 144 on the list to read a current best-seller) but in the meantime there’s always something else to read.
- Subscribe to a magazine. I paid $39.99 for a year’s subscription the The New Yorker, meaning I get a new fiction story every week and now have unlimited access to their online archives. Hundreds of short stories, only a click away.
- Listen to podcasts. In addition to my New Yorker subscription I also download a monthly fiction podcast that features one of the magazine’s previous writers reading aloud a story they’ve always admired. Every month I’m exposed to new stories and authors and I can listen while I’m doing something mundane like cooking dinner or doing the dishes.
These days I’m usually back sprawled across my bed reading, or in our hammock if it’s a nice day, but my joy is no less than it was when I was 10 and reading those Roald Dahl books. I’m about to start The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Have you read any good books lately?