For exactly a year now I’ve been carrying around this old, faded piece of paper in the back of my equally worn phone case. I’m not sure exactly why I thought carrying a list of books was absolutely necessary (like maybe I should keep spare cash or an ID there?), but alas there it resides, providing me with fine literature at a moment’s notice.
Anyway, like many college students, my ability to consume pieces of recreational literature is sadly nonexistent during the school year. Most of the time I honestly forget about the list. But in light of the obscene amount of free time summer has granted me, in between classes and interning, I’ve revisited the paper once more and have made the executive decision to read one book a week off the list. For the past 2 weeks I’ve carried out this determined plan of action and here’s what I found:
–Reading makes it easier to travel alone–
One of the first issues I faced while embarking on this literary journey was my hatred for routine. Reading every day didn’t bother me as much as the idea of having to do it in the same place every single day. In order to combat this redundancy, I began bringing a book with me whenever I went out, whether it was to grab a meal, to run errands, etc. What I found was that with a book in hand, it was astoundingly easier to explore new places alone.
Normally, my attitude on going places by myself is usually this:
I’m the student who DREADS eating alone in the dining hall or joining a new club with strangers, and yet somehow I found it liberating exploring new places knowing that, worse comes to worst, I can just find a spot and read. As a college student, one of the greatest obstacles is learning how to be comfortable in your own company, something I feel like I’m always trying to achieve. Within the past two weeks, however, I’ve discovered a new restaurant I now adore (whose menu is entirely devoted to TACOS, I REPEAT TACOS), explored a bird watching park (which oddly had like 2 birds…), and visited a local historic fort, all in my own company. Of course there were times eating alone that I felt slightly more self-conscious or when at the fort, I became extremely cognizant of everyone else around me. However, all in all, I loved the freedom of deciding to do things I liked without the crippling fear of being alone, and being able to read a good book in the unlikeliest of places.
–Not all books are made equally–
One of the unforeseen difficulties I have already encountered on this venture is that not all books are meant to be read in a week. Currently, I am struggling to finish my book for week two, which is Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. After enduring 400 pages, I will once again throw the book in frustration if I have to read one more detail about the quality of soil in rural England. If there is one thing I’ll take away from this book, it is that there is a clear (and apparently important) difference between the rich, heavy clay of Blackmoor Vale and the fat, alluvial soil of the valley of the Var. This minor obstacle may make me reevaluate my time limit for each novel, especially with particularly daunting ones such as Anna Karenina and Atlas Shrugged.
Over all, setting out to read a book a week off my list has been an overwhelmingly good experience. I recommend that everyone take advantage of summer to venture off to new places with good food in mind and an even greater book in hand.