I’ve always been a big reader. When I was a kid, my parents both worked at my small-town elementary/middle school, and I have the best memories of waiting in the library for them to finish work at the end of each school day. I read everywhere as a child; on the playground during recess, sprawled out on my bed after school, at picnic tables and beaches during summer trips to the lake - name a place and I could find a way to devour a book there. It was the perfect escape for my socially anxious self, and a way to experience the world in ways that I didn’t always have the opportunity to in real life.
After I quit drinking I felt like I needed to “catch up” in life, especially in terms of education and my career. When I went back to school I, like most students, found myself immersed in textbooks and academic journals, with little time left for “fun” reading. I didn’t mind all that much (that’s what I was there for), but I found that even after I’d graduated and moved on from university, that sense of urgency to continue to play catch-up caused me to feel guilty about reading anything other than serious nonfiction books that would aid me in my quest for personal and professional development. That lasted for a few years and it was only recently - the beginning of this year, in fact - that I decided to shake off that guilt and re-introduce fiction into my life on a regular basis.
The result has been the rekindling of my love of reading in a way that I didn’t expect or even know was necessary. I’ve read all kinds of books from classics to graphic novels to poetry and everything in between over the past 6+ months and loved every minute of it. I read in bed, in my sunroom, on my back porch, in coffee shops, on park benches, at the library - wherever there is room to grab a few minutes of quiet time. I carry a book with me everywhere now and it feels like the most natural thing in the world. It’s been like coming home when I didn’t even realize that I was away.
Something that’s been fun as my literary life has exploded this year is discovering which tools I like to use to keep track of my reads and share them with others. I’ve had a Goodreads account for a long time, but didn’t really start using it until the beginning of this year. Just for fun, I decided to set a goal of reading 25 books in 2017. I’d never successfully kept track of the number of books I read in a year before, so I had no idea what an appropriate goal would be for me. I hit my initial 25 book goal last month, so I guess I could have gone higher, but I did find that setting a Goodreads goal encouraged me to start using the site/app regularly, which has been so helpful for keeping track of my to-read list.
I also started sharing the books I read on Instagram at the beginning of the year. I like seeing what other people are reading, so it seemed like a natural thing for me to do. Since those initial posts, I’ve started using the hashtag #MeadsReads on book posts, rating the books out of 5, and sharing photos of not just the front cover, but the summary and author info as well. These mini book reviews have been so much fun for me and in the process of making them, I’ve found other book-related accounts to follow, which has meant more books on my to-read list and a greater sense of community in my social media life, which I absolutely love.
Reading has been such a gift in my life this year. I love the way it’s changed how I spend my free time, how it’s increased my desire to write, and the way I’ve been able to connect with others over the shared love of a good book. What I once saw as an escape from the world has become a connection to it, and for that I am immensely grateful.