One of the best things about being finished for the summer is that I get to read what I want again. Doing a degree in English Literature I certainly have enough to read but I rarely get to choose what it is I’m reading. Next year I’ll get more of a say in what I choose to read, but in first year the majority of our modules are compulsory meaning the reading lists are also compulsory. I have enjoyed many of the novels and poetry we have studied this year and it is definitely beneficial to read things you might not normally have picked; you can’t discover anything if you don’t try new things. However I have amassed a number of books that I’ve been yearning to start reading for what feels like months and months. I just haven’t been able to justify starting them when I have always had a couple of books already on the go for my course and several more waiting to be read for the next week or the week after that. It feels liberating to be able to pick one of these books from the pile and open the first pages knowing that there are no impending deadlines that will waylay me from enjoying the book.
I hate being interrupted when I’m reading. I don’t mean my mum asking me if I can go out to the shops for some milk or my sister pestering to play with me (although I dislike that also) but I hate beginning a book and then something getting in the way which means loads of time lapses before I can resume reading it again. This year work has definitely been that something – ironically a lot of the work has involved reading. It’s strange because during my A-levels I always made time for reading, and although the work is undoubtedly harder at university the actual workload is sometimes less. I’m almost certain that if I was doing a subject like Biology, I think I still would make time for reading because enjoying a novel would be something I could do to chill out in my spare time, like watching TV or meeting with friends. But because I’m doing English, my work isreading, so doing more reading begins to feel like a chore and I don’t ever want that to happen! I’m certainly not complaining that my work is reading; I’m very pleased that I am doing English and not Biology, but it doesn’t stop me missing reading for fun.
I miss making the decision of what I’m going to read next. I miss the feeling of knowing you’ve got as much time as you like to read the book, instead of having the constant awareness of when you have to finish it for. I also miss being able to sit for whole evenings and getting caught up in the book so that you just have to finish it to see what happens and yet knowing there’s nothing stopping you from reading on longer. I like to get immersed in the story and when there are weeks between every couple of chapters, you forget the characters, the plotline, and who did what when. It had got to the point where I just didn’t even start reading another book because I knew I couldn’t finish it. The books I brought from home just ended up abandoned on the shelf, a forlorn reminder of what I wasn’t reading. I even brought a book of short stories by Barbara Kingsolver hoping I could just dip in and out but this term I haven’t even managed that!
So this summer, I’m going to make the most of being able to read what I want and when I want. I may go into a bookshop and actually buy that book that I want instead of putting it back knowing there’s not a chance I’ll start reading it. I can’t wait to make a start on the pile of books that I know is waiting for me when I get home.