I've been thinking about reading a lot lately; actually, scratch that. I actually have been reading a lot lately. Lots of different books and types of things to read.
Reading is by far my favorite way to entertain and to educate myself. I suppose there's a lot of overlap there because for me, education is entertainment in many cases. There's a number of advantages inherent to the textual medium. There's naturally more information density than movies or podcasts. Something I find cool about reading is that you can get good at it; with most other media, like tv or music, consuming a lot of it won't necessarily make you better. When you're a fast reader, however, you can zip through entire stories in just a few hours.
I've kind of been thinking about all the different ways I enjoyed books and words throughout the years. I recall being an avid reader as a child, although I don't exactly remember the kind of books I read. I know that in elementary school I loved it when the teacher read aloud to the class, so I suppose it might have all started with a love of stories. When thinking back to my childhood books I remember names like Animorphs, Goosebumps, Inkheart. Visiting the library used to be one of my favorite pastimes.
We used to move a lot when I was younger, and I think that contributed a lot to my fascination with books. What was previously just a particularly good way to entertain myself turned into one of the core ways that I could recharge my Self. Books suddenly became a portal through which I could reach the versions of me from the past. I related even more strongly to the characters and the stories, and my hobby of reading soon turned into one better described as rereading.
I remember long nights staying up past my bedtime, reading on my bed until my eyes became too weary to focus and I fell instantly asleep. I had something like a rotation of books which it seemed like I never got bored of - I introduced new books occasionally but I would keep cycling though my same favorites. Popular titles included Artemis Fowl, A Series of Uncharted Events, Alex Rider, and Eragon. I was known for always having a book nearby, even and especially while on the toilet, and I still have the layout of the library (both the one in school and the public library) memorized to this day, along with the locations of all my favorite books. I discovered fanfiction around then too, for when rereading wasn't enough, and I read some fanfics so dutifully that their plots are as real as the original books in my memory.
We continued moving, and right after each move I would have to go through all my old favorites again. I allowed myself to branch out more later, but nothing made me feel more like me than revisiting all those familiar faces locked away between the pages. I suppose you could call them comfort books. I used to read a lot during class as well (I really mastered the forehead on desk and book in lap manuever), and got in trouble for it sometimes too. I kept books in my lap and tried very hard to read inconspicuously. It was funny when my teachers caught me - they did seem like they wanted to punish me for not paying attention, but also reward me for reading so dutifully. I recall getting a light admonishment when I was caught reading The Giver like this.
Eventually my tastes became more sophisticated. I fancied myself quite the reader; nothing was beyond my grasp! I moved on to nonfiction books, classics like Freakonomics, or famous literature since I figured it would make me more cultured, like Catch 22. I'd always kind of felt that I spent too much time rereading childrens books from my past, so I tried very hard to diversify my interests. Luckily around this time I was blessed with a long, boring drive to school. I had nothing to do during it, and so it became the perfect place to slog away at whatever tome I'd picked last. I got through a real monster of a book, The Brothers Karamazov, entirely through the power of morning car rides. This didn't stop me from returning to childhood favorites though, and I occasionally found it in me to reread the entire Animorphs series. Sometimes you must obey the inscrutable exhortations of your soul.
By now, I'd become a very fast reader. I voraciously devoured whatever was in front of me, and I needed more. Luckily, I stumbled upon the world of web serials and blogs. This was a ideal for a few reasons. I already mostly read books on my phone since I'd become skilled at pirating whatever I could want, so these were already in a perfect format for that. Plus, one of the premises of a web serial is to provide a much less edited product that instead releases at an impossibly fast cadence, which suited my tastes just fine. I got so sucked into a web serial called Worm; it took away months of my life and I still fondly remember that era like I was in a trance.
All this happened before graduating High School, but all of that was important to lay the foundations for today. I'm starting to build up my own collection of books, and books do not get a coveted spot on the bookshelf until I actually read them. This has happened to provide a huge motivation for reading more and discovering new books which I've really enjoyed, everything from political history to human biology to epic fantasy. It's been a while since I felt the need to reread one of my old favorite kids books, but it does happen. I occasionally pop into a book store to read the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid and it's a great way to bond with kids over what they're reading (some of which is surprisingly good).
It feels like somehow, impossibly, every few years I rediscover a love of reading and find it taking me somewhere that I've never quite been before. It's the most wonderful feeling when this happens, and I'm always amazed how readingis able to seamlessly connect me to my past while also charting new courses for my future.