This is a guest post from Simone Jung. Simone is a reader and writer living in the suburbs of New Jersey. She spends her time in sharing her reads on her book blog https://simoneandherbooks.com and at her day job. Her current focus is on diverse reads, but she also loves a good thriller, a romantic plotline, a coming-of-age story, a historical drama, and the everyday mishaps of life. When she’s not reading, she’s spending time with her husband and looking for the best gluten-free bagel. Follow her on Twitter @simoneandbooks.
Over the past five years, I feel like I’ve started reading a ton more than I did when I was a kid. It started with a modest collection of novels I picked up from the bookstore and it turned into an obsession. I’ve challenged myself to read more books in a year and write about books and even started an Instagram account dedicated to books. I’ve even expanded my scope to bring more diverse novels out to the public.
But I wasn’t always into reading books and for a while, I didn’t read at all. Back when I was in college, I was a Communications major. Not a lot of Communications majors were reading a ton of books, but I also decided I would minor in Religious Studies. As a Religious Studies minor, I was reading so many books by so many authors of philosophy and religious thought that I was exhausted from reading.
I was done with books. I was so done that on the last day of my very last final, I walked over to the college Barnes and Noble to sell back all the texts I bought. I didn’t want them on my shelves and I never wanted to see them again. I even threw my backpack out.
You might think this was an over-exaggeration, but college was really hard for me. I had to work doubly hard to keep my GPA up and I was just having straight up anxiety attacks in the middle of the night and then wake up the next morning to go to class. It was a nightmare, but when I finished I felt really good about getting my degree and really good about not wanting to read another book again.
A few months after I finished college, I started a new job as a customer service rep in hopes of just getting my job done and going home at the end of the night. My manager at the time was an avid reader and while I wasn’t reading books then, she suggested I try a few she thought I might like. “I think you’ll like this one called The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Just pick it up and read it.”
I sighed audibly. I had just sworn off books and was really enjoying my evenings crying myself to sleep while watching Gilmore Girls. I kept thinking to myself, great, more books. But I looked up to my manager at that time and I wanted to share something with her on a personal level. She was bookish and she advocated for good reads and encouraged me to do the same.
So I picked up a copy of The History of Love and absolutely loved it. I didn’t realize books can be good! Honestly, when you’re wearing horse blinders and your reads are solely academic, you forget that there’s an entire world of beautifully written novels about subjects other than the sins of man and existence.
When I finished reading it, I told my manager how much I loved it. “See! I knew you would.” She was almost like a guru who knew the medication for a bad reading slump was a good book. She suggested a few more and I picked those up as well. Suddenly, I was reading The Fermata by Nicholson Baker, Little Children by Tom Perrotta, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Beautifully written novels where the authors all mastered the artistry of the written word.
Even though that was almost ten years ago and I didn’t get super obsessed with reading until 2012, I still remember that time as a crucial point in my life. I was depressed about not having a job in magazines. I was working at a customer service job that paid the bills. My parents were asking us to move out. I was getting out of a terrible relationship with a guy that never appreciated me. And what I remember fondly was that first book I picked up and how it brought a little bit of wonder into my life. I will always remember my manager and how The History of Love sort of saved me.
You must be thinking how crazy it is that I just didn’t want to read, but I’m pretty sure our community can attest that people sometimes just don’t. If you’re someone considering getting back into reading, my advice for you is to start slow.
Read one book all the way through. Maybe it takes you a day or maybe it takes you a month. But give yourself the opportunity to read and enjoy reading. It doesn’t need to be profound. It could be Harry Potter if you wanted to, but the most important thing is to approach it with an open mind. You’ll find yourself picking up another book in no time.