To A Year of Non-Academic Reading

Throughout my life, reading has been associated with the academic world. If not reading for a class, I have been reading supplemental material to something I have already read. Yet after graduating last year, I have been given a gift. This is the gift of not being assigned anything to read. So, what does one read when not assigned? That is the problem yet also the most amazing thing. This gives  the freedom to read whatever I want without the deadline. This was my year to grow as a person and a reader. It was there to prove that I liked reading for more than just being a GPA boaster.

The question soon becomes: What should a person read without any guidelines? Well, anything is too big of a pool of suggestions. Book Riot soon became a source for many options. This post has become a challenge of sorts. Currently, I have read 45 of the books on the list of 100. Yet with some of these being assigned in school, it took some of the challenge out of it. Except Great Expectations which, I will admit to not reading five years after it was assigned. Then, there are the books which I have wanted to read yet never had the time. Somehow, Wicked is still on this list after at least two years of trying before this year of complete chaotic reading habits. Goodreads has been extremely helpful in finding books along with Overdrive for Kindle reading.

In this year of unlimited reading, I have been re-reading favorite books. This includes parts of The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey. Everyone has their own reason for liking and disliking The Catcher in the Rye. My reason for liking The Catcher in the Rye is Holden’s personality. We have pretty much the same personality especially in high school, so I have pretty decided that my personality in high school was pretty annoying. If Holden was my personality in high school, Franny is my personality now. My favorite quote comes from how there is no way of being original. She could turn into a bohemian, and I could turn into a hipster; it would just feel conforming. Another book that I re-read was The Princess Bride. Now, I had originally watched the movie before reading the book. This is one movie which is as good as the book. It is quotable and watchable. It seems to be inline with “Don Juan” by Lord Byron where the author comments on the action. One book which I did not re-read was Up the Down Staircase. It gets told through notes and announcements rather than prose. It is inspirational to teachers and those who would like to be teachers.

In addition to re-reading other books, I have recently gotten into reading non-fiction. It all started with reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?.  This was one of the books I randomly found on Overdrive. I was pleasantly surprised with how witty and relatable it was. So in addition to finding a really cool book, I found a really cool TV show which was not cancelled in this last go round (I tend to start liking shows which get cancelled soon after I find them). It makes me feel like I am not alone in some senses. I also read Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. It was less of a serendipity find than it is a highly reviewed book that I might like. I get that Sandburg started from a place of “privilege,” but what successful is not given some advantage. The latest non-fiction book that I really liked is Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity in addition with Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. They both tell the story of Mumbai. A couple of years ago, I got really into Bollywood movies like 3 Idiots and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. So, non-fiction about India was not that far of a leap. It was really interesting to read about the poor in India.

Finally, I had to challenge my fiction reading because I cannot read YA and Jane Austen for the rest of my life. That being said, I am not ashamed of YA literature. Back to the subject at hand. At the time of the publication of this blog, I have read four out of five A Song of Fire and Ice books. That was a real stretch of reading ability. It takes a lot out me to actually read the books, so I cannot read them right after another.  I do like the books though. I started and finished Anna Karenina. It is this year’s Irene Iddesleigh, yet it is better written. At least in this book, the husband had reasons to doubt his wife and get mad at her. I have discovered Rainbow Rowell in this past year and enjoy all of the books of hers published this far. She writes in a YA style that is often called New Adult. This makes her the Meg Cabot of older young adults. I especially enjoyed Attachments which takes place right at the time of the Y2K scare. Finally, I have read The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers so far. I am planning to read The Return of the King in the next couple of months after I finish the last A Song of Fire and Ice books and 1Q84.

So long story short, I took my non-academic year to read and read and read. I took advantage of free resources from the library and recommendations from strangers. I took leaps of faith that I would not hate the book presented to me, which actually takes a lot of effort more than some people. It has been a rare gift to read for the joy of reading instead of for the joy of GPA. 


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