Summer Reading

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I passed this sign every day on my way to and from work over the summer. About the time this message appeared, I started reading just for me again. Coincidence or subliminal messaging?

It’s not like a didn’t read before I saw this sign. I actually love to read; have ever since I was a kid. One of the first books I remember knowing how to “read” is Just Go to Bed, although that memory also includes being told I wasn’t actually reading it, just reciting a story I’d heard so many times that I’d committed it to memory. Needless to say, I did eventually learn to read that book and anything else I picked up. Growing up, I also spent a lot of time at our local library, picking out books and reading while my mom ran other errands. I still carry my childhood library card in my wallet [well one of them because I tended to lose or leave them places].

Somewhere along the way, reading just for me became more intermittent. Required reading in high school and college cut into time I would have spent reading for pleasure. Fast forward a few years, and even though it’s not in book form, I now do a decent amount of reading at work, proofreading and updating letters, resource material, etc. No matter how much I enjoy reading, my brain can only handle so much in one day.

Many people save their “just because” reading for travel and, for the past few years, I have been no exception.

With a 30-minute commute on the train each way each day, I’ve had more time to devote to travel reading than your average non-city dweller. But books add extra weight to a purse already bursting with shoes for the office, an umbrella in case it rains and just about everything else you could possibly need in a day [the joys of taking public transportation to work], so they often gave way to the disposable daily paper so I could keep up on current events while still fulfilling some of the desire to read. Then I moved and my commute was cut in half – great for adding time back into my day, terrible for my reading on the train regimen.

In addition to my daily commute, I started traveling more for work and to visit my boyfriend. These plane trips created great opportunities for long, uninterrupted reading. Then work hit the slow travel season and my boyfriend moved within driving distance – great for my free time and last minute trips to visit him, terrible for my reading on the plane regimen.

On top of all the travel, there’s actually working, post-work activities, errands, cooking and my often out-of-control DVR. There are only so many hours in a day and mine were quickly claimed by things other than reading.

Then, with shrinking door-to-door travel time, the reclamation of my nights and weekends from constant travel, spring changing into summer, and season finales leading to the taming of my out-of-control DVR, the sign appeared on my daily walk.

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I started turning off the TV in the evenings and on weekend afternoons [especially after my technology-free vacation] and picking up the stack of books I’d purchased but never read [and let’s be honest, I bought more books]. I started reading a chapter or two before bed or in bed with my Sunday morning tea as Weasley snoozed. I read classics like A Farewell to Arms [my boyfriend claims that I’m the only person who’s ever ready Hemingway for fun] and best sellers like The Paris Wife and J.K. Rowling’s very un-Harry Potter-ish novel, The Casual Vacancy. Instead of books on my commute, I carried magazines. I kept up to date on the happenings around town by subscribing to Washingtonian, and on the latest fashion and thought-provoking essays with Vogue [at this point I should probably subscribe to it too]. And since I started spending more time driving in the car to visit my boyfriend, I added audiobooks to my reading repertoire.

And the great thing is that I started this trend back at the beginning of summer, and it’s still going strong now that fall is in full swing. It may not be the days of my youth where I’d spend whole days doing nothing but reading and finishing books in a single afternoon, but it’s something. No matter the medium, it’s a nice to be reading again.

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