I spent much of my childhood with my head buried in a book. Books have always been a part of my life and a part of my self-development, self-awareness, and personal growth. I was a late reader, but I made up for that fast. I read everything in our house, some of which was a bit advanced for me thematically, but no harm…I read much of the same things later and got a richer experience from it for my troubles.
You’d think that with my love of reading and writing I would have majored in English in college, but two things steered me in a different direction. One was not getting into AP English…my English teacher senior year confessed to me that the only reason I didn’t get in was because I was too quiet and they didn’t think I’d add to the discussion (I was anything but shy in her class…prompting the revelation). All along, I thought that my essay just wasn’t good enough…a shock to my ego. The other reason was because I was dead bored in high school. I wanted a challenge, so I decided to study chemical engineering to spice things up.
I had little time to read for pleasure in college, but I made up for it on breaks. I went straight into grad school from college and worked during the school year and over the summer, digging deeply into my reading time. After graduation, however, I had a maddening eleven months of “unemployment”, meaning, I couldn’t find a job. I read and read and read. I picked up classics like Jane Eyre and I read everything by Isaac Asimov that I could get my hands on.
After landing a job, where I’ve been for the last 25 years, I was busy learning my profession. Then I started having kids and my reading time slowly slipped away. Over the years, I still read quite a bit, but my reading shifted more towards non-fiction. Every problem or challenge that I faced, I found a book (or five) on the topic to help me puzzle-through how to deal with it.
In the last few years, however, I’ve really challenged myself to read more and to add back some fiction to my reading list. I solicited titles from friends and created a long list. I’ve read some popular fiction, lots of young adult literature (still influenced by having teenaged children), memoir and science fiction (two of my favorite genres), and re-read old favorites.
I work with a woman who has a Masters in Library Science, and she recently attended a book club that is all women and they meet once a quarter and focus on non-fiction. I’m not clear as to how this book club functions, I think that rather than a small group it is more of a large gathering of women who have all recently read the same book. My friend invited me to the next meeting, so I’m reading the selected book and looking forward to the gathering.
I’ve often thought of starting a book club, but I can’t do everything. Joining my friend at her event is a nice way to connect with like-minded people without having to start my own club. That works for me. One thing I’ve re-learned, however, is that not only is reading fundamental, it is fundamental to my well-being.
Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Joy in a good book!