Every fall, I begin to read again, and nearly every winter, my reading drops away. There are several reasons that this happens, but the most important reason is that in the fall, I read for pleasure.
There's something different about the Autumn, when I comfortably settle in to read with a cozy blanket in my favorite recliner and read for hours at a time. (Wouldn't it be nice if I could do it without being interrupted by my seven-year-old?) Moreover, this is the time of year when I am most turned on by paper books and not my eReader.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot love my Kindle the way that I want to. It's fine for quick reads of independent fiction (in particular the shorter books published through KDP), but the meat and potatoes of reading is (for me), the paperback novel.
(Admittedly, I don't even get the same thing out of hardcover books!)
This fall, I picked up my Kindle Fire (not my favorite device to read on, but it was available at the time) and when I opened it, the first book that popped up was Stephen King's It. I had begun picking at it about a year ago (it is admittedly an epic read) off and on but found the Kindle version to be overpriced and under-edited. Too many 1s stood in place of lowercase Ls (or vice versa), making the book difficult to read on Kindle.
So I took myself to Half Price Books and purchased a copy of the novel for $2.49.
It has been years since I got so much pleasure out of a book. This book, in particular, has occupied much of my reading time; Not because of its length, but because the book fascinates me. I'm reading it for the third time now.
I'm not going to get into the reasons that I don't get as much out of reading on the Kindle (not yet, anyway, but I will at a later date!) but I would like to talk some about what reading for pleasure has done for me this fall -- and why I want to do more of it throughout the year.
It Provides an Escape from Stress
I struggle with post traumatic stress disorder, and even the most routine stress can cause me to become deeply depressed. This became a serious problem this summer while my family and I were living with my parents for four months (and more recently, since my husband lost his job).
When I put aside the stress of reading (a commitment to review everything that I read, the challenge to read a book or two a week, the desire to read for knowledge rather than pleasure), it provides me a temporary escape from stress. While I read, I am fully immersed in the world the author has woven for me.
This takes me out of the world of stress in which I live and provides me the opportunity to engage with something different. Even if the world of the novel is horrifying (such as It), I can escape from my present circumstances and into a rich world of characters and (my favorite), terror.
Of course, this only applies when the book provides a stable universe, interesting characters, and a plot that continues to move. This is one of the reasons that I enjoy Stephen King's older work, among other favorite authors.
It Broadens My Reading Library
When I read for pleasure, I read more. While I realize that this isn't true of everyone, reading for pleasure means that I read more often, read more deeply, and that I enjoy reading more than I do if I'm reading as entertainment (to replace writing, television, or music), and therefore I generally read more books if I'm not on a timeline (even if the books are longer!).
I've always been a quick reader, capable of finishing a novel in a week or less, depending on its length and how much reading I'm doing. What I do not like is having to read on a schedule in order to churn out book reviews on a particular timeline or for the benefit of the author (which is especially true if I didn't enjoy the book).
Reading for pleasure means that I read more deeply, become more involved in the book, and that I therefore remember the book better. The books I read for pleasure are most likely to be added to my book shelf of books to recommend to other people, and I'm more likely to keep them -- my true test of enjoyment for any novel.
I'm always looking to expand my library of books I've read from start to finish (which includes if the book is written as part of a series, finishing every book in the series).
|I want my personal library to look like this: Full of books I've read!|
It Introduces Me to Excellent Authors
One of the most amazing things about reading for pleasure is taking recommendations for friends. If it wasn't for friends, I'd never have discovered Nicholas Evans, John Grisham, or Nora Roberts (some of my favorites). In fact, I might never have stepped outside of the horror genre and away from Anne Rice and Stephen King if it hadn't been for the recommendations of other pleasure readers.
I read book blogs on a regular basis -- it's one way that I've discovered books I truly enjoy (such as The Hunger Games). The best recommendations often come from other pleasure readers, and the people I connect with the most are always those who read because they want to, and not because they've set up a personal timeline on Goodreads or their blog, reading a set number of books in a set time period. The most astonishing (for me) is when I read blogs by people who claim to read a book a day.
This is impossible for me to do and enjoy, even when the books are remarkably short. The last short novel I picked up was The Last Reading and it took me about six months to finish because I pushed myself too hard. I ultimately enjoyed the book when I relaxed and read it because I wanted to, and not because I had to. I'll happily read more by author Gillian Larkin.
It Helps Me Relax Alone
|As an INFJ, I need a lot of time to relax alone. Reading for pleasure helps me do that!|
I'm an INFJ personality type -- for those who don't know, the rarest personality type at only 1% of the population. Like most introverts, I require considerable time to be by myself. Reading -- and in particular reading for pleasure -- provides me with what I need in order to rejuvenate myself.
The escape into a fictional world helps to comfort me and the book provides a barrier between me and other people who would otherwise attempt to engage me.
Throughout the time that my family stayed with my parents, my mother was the worst culprit for stopping to talk to me when I was involved in other things. For me, this could be anything from writing to studying language to working on graphic design (which is not a talent of mine, I must say). She was particularly fond of bringing up stressful topics when I could least handle discussing them (such as how my husband's job search was going, or whether or not we'd signed a lease on a home yet).
A book tells other people "leave me alone, I'm reading." It tells people that you want to be by yourself, and it acts as a barrier. Reading for pleasure separates me mentally from the people who attempt to change my focus. If I'm reading for pleasure, I'm deeply involved in the fictional world, and am further from the "real world" in which my friends of family wish to involve me.
This makes it easier for me to be alone, and therefore to relax away from the pressures of every day life.