Falling back in love with reading

Finding my way back to my favourite pastime

Hobbies take effort.
When I was a kid, I always had a book on the go.
These days, I struggle to finish reading a modest novel in a month. I just don’t derive the same joy from reading as I used to—I don’t know if it’s because I have so little free time or because, as an English student, I do so much reading for classes already. Since high school, I feel like I’ve lost touch with one of my favorite pastimes. I’m trying hard to get that back. 
I don’t think my experience is an uncommon one; many of my friends, new and old, have fallen out of love with reading for pleasure in the past few years, too. Trying to balance schoolwork, extra-curriculars, and being a functioning adult leaves little time left in the day for doing things we enjoy, and sometimes carving out time to relax feels like a chore.
This year, I set a goal for myself: to read two books every month. Since January, I’ve failed sorely to meet that target. My desire to read comes in bursts and peters off quickly, and stories that aren’t presented in an easily-digestible television format don’t hold my interest like they did when I was younger.
It’s frustrating, as a once-avid reader, to have to work so hard to enjoy something that was once effortless for me. Reading was such an important part of my life growing up—books were there for me through good times and bad. When I struggled to make friends at a new school, I could settle in at lunch with a good story. For my birthdays, I’d treat myself to a hard cover edition of a book I’d been dying to read. 
Reading has helped to foster friendships, to cheer me up on a bad day, to pass the time on a rainy weekend. I can recall times in my life based on the books I was reading: in kindergarten, I asked my teacher to call me Harry Potter; sleepovers with friends from basketball were Hunger Games-themed; middle school was marked by Percy Jackson & the Olympians.
Recently, I’ve managed to slowly dip my toes back into reading with some success. I challenged myself to read the new Twilight novel for an article, and I’m working through the spin-off from a series I enjoyed in high school. 
The key has been starting simple. In the summer months, when I found myself stuck at home with some extra time on my hands, I put a lot of pressure on myself to work through an ambitious list of classic novels and challenging reads I’d wanted to put a dent in since high school. I made up a checklist of titles, but only ended up ticking off a single box. 
In July, I started a couple of my friends on a set of novels I had already read and loved. I reread along with them, and I slowly started to feel excited about the story again. 
Since classes started this fall, I’ve had to scramble to find time to read, but I’m pleased that I’m trying. I bought Bram Stoker’s Dracula last week, and I’m aiming to start and finish it over the reading break.
Like anything, reading is a practiced skill. Once you stop doing it for a while, it’s hard to jump back in. But, as I’ve found, it’s not impossible—it just takes some time. 

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