One of the many freedoms that come with finishing school is that no one forces you to read anymore. Some unfortunate people decide that this will be the last time they ever pick up a book, but for the rest of us, this means that we finally have a say in what we invest our time in. Reading can now be purely for enjoyment! A fantastic concept! Now, there can be no doubt that some of the texts that were forced upon us as students were good, solid literature that could be used to teach lessons or even just to instill a passion for literature. For some it succeeded and some it failed. On the other hand, I think every single person who has gone through a high school English class can think of a book or two that they wanted to throw out the window and never look at again. It is because of these books that some people never want to read again.
Obviously, individuals have different things that they do and do not want to read about. I do not envy teachers for having to pick a reading list, especially when there is bound to be at least one unenthusiastic student out there somewhere. Literature lovers are either made or destroyed because of mandatory reading requirements. No one likes to be told what to do.
Thankfully, we can put that dark time behind us, and forge into territory where we can choose which literary path we take. There are so many books and different types of literature out there that someone who seeks it can never be at a loss for something good, something they like. And, when you find a bad one, toss it! Life is too short to read things we don’t want to. We all got our fair share in high school; it is time to take the reins!
With this newfound freedom, it is important to try many different genres. Stick your toe into different pools and see which ones are the perfect temperatures. Just how different people can handle different levels of spice in their foods, different people are attracted to certain genres and not to others; your brother’s favorite book in the whole world might be extremely dull or distasteful to you, just as yours may be just as boring for him. There is beauty in owning your choice of literature and being proud of it! I personally love both science fiction as well as classic British literature. I am not afraid to try other books, but I know that there are very few in those genres that will disappoint me. I am aware of my interests.
I once promised myself that if I picked up a book, I would make sure I finished it. After slogging through a couple of clunkers, I realized that rather than drawing me in, these books were pushing me away from wanting to read. Everyone loves when they have a book where they can’t wait for the next available moment to crack it open again, and you are excited when you have more than ten minutes to devote to it. Though it is unrealistic to think that every single book you ever read is going to keep you on the edge of your seat, it is worth trying, because the exhilaration of knowing that the story is going to captivate you is something unique and should never be passed up, just because a silly promise you made to yourself (probably while in the middle of some great book that you didn’t want to end).
With jobs, family, and a countless number of responsibilities and things that pull on our time, the book that we choose to stay up an extra half hour at night for (though we may regret it in the morning) should be exhilarating and stimulating, rather than just another drain on our energy. We should look forward to reading before bed to relax, and even the thought of a whole afternoon of reading should be a great thing, rather than a chore. I’ve had this experience as well. I look at the book I am reading and say “oh, great”. Where is the joy in that?
I say that now is the time to take our freedom and use it. I say that you owe it to yourself to find the literature that you can engage in, and read like it is the last book you will ever see! Only you know what you will like, not your 11th grade teacher, so now that you can all make your own choices, it is time to be selfish and read to your heart’s content, because that’s what literature should do: make your heart content.