When I was younger, you couldn’t pay me to read a book. My parents read to me as a child, but in middle and high school, I was a Sparknotes reader; preferably, about 15-30 minutes before exams.
Homer’s Odyssey sat mostly unread. I was supposed to have spent the summer before my freshman year of high school analyzing the prose and coming up with something intelligent to say. Instead, I read the first 75 pages and called it good.
Reading wasn’t something I naturally enjoyed doing. It felt boring and stuffy. While I enjoyed the cover artwork, the text never enticed me to stay until the end. Ironically, I loved purchasing new — open it up, bend the spine, smell the glue and paper, and see those perfect 90-degree corners — books. But again, they sat mostly unfinished.
Something clicked in college. Suddenly, I enjoyed turning the pages of a good book of fiction. I wanted to read more. And for the last eight to nine years, I’ve become further engrossed and in love with the act of reading.
Now 27, I want to read even more. A lot more. And I’m not talking about finding a good book to read before bed or in between classes or to start my day. I’m talking about reading for entire days — hours upon hours!
I want to get swept away in a non-fiction subject or in fictional characters, plots, and narratives. I want to be amazed by others’ writing and ideas; most of all, I want to learn and hone my own writing abilities through reading. I learn through talented authors. They’re my role models.
The act has become this thing I lust after. Inside, I say to the world, “Get out of my way, leave me alone, stop talking to me. I need to read!” I read like there’s no tomorrow, because I’m not sure if there is. I read because there’s something I need to learn and would be remiss not to know it. More and more pages turned, pulled, flipped. Hours pass uninterrupted; frankly, I prefer it that way.
As I reflect on my habit, I realize what I love most about it. The classic book is a deep dive into a subject — whether fiction or not. Inside this world — and unlike the Internet — nothing pops up. Nothing pokes or aggravates. Nothing makes suggestions. There aren’t click-bait or artificial headlines. I don’t break from the reading to click and subscribe. I don’t scroll down to get back to the content. Ralph Nader says the only time to escape advertisements might be sleep, but books still provide an oasis.
Frugality is much easier with a good book. In fact, reading might be the lowest cost of entertainment on Earth. Consuming television and movies is cheaper than ever, but remains more expensive than going and getting a book.
For instance, a movie might have a 90-minute runtime and cost $10 to buy. That’s roughly a dollar for every 10 minutes. Meanwhile the purchase price of a book might be comparable — say $10 — but the runtime is magnificent. Pick up a lengthy tome like Stephen King’s 11/22/63 at 849 pages, and you’ll be reading for a 20-30 hours. It’s pennies to read every hour — enjoyment at a fraction of the price. And this doesn’t even account for public libraries!
Living simply and frugally is easier with a good book. These hours spent avoiding material consumption for knowledge, empathy, and understanding. And best of all, it won’t leave your wallet reeling.
So, what will you read this summer?