Remembering Why We Read
I'll admit that up until a couple of weeks ago, I had fallen out of the habit of reading for pure enjoyment. Being in school and having one to two books to read a week for classes has made it difficult for me to find the energy in my spare time to sit down and pick up yet another book, even though prior to college, it was rare for me to not be reading a book on my own time. Over the past couple of years, my just-for-me reading had been reduced to a few books read over summer vacations, and it has been an issue weighing upon my mind that I have intended to fix for a while, but I have struggled to find the motivation.
Last weekend, I did something for the first time that, as an English major, I should have done long before: attend an author event. Somehow, in all of my many years of avid reading and writing, the idea of going to this type of event and listening to an author speak about his or her work never crossed my mind. Beyond that, nobody had ever introduced me to the idea of attending one. But after having participated in the event, I can say it's a valuable experience that has made me an active reader again.
When the opportunity to attend an author event was presented to me, I was instantly excited and committed to going. I purchased the book, Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips, and read as much as I could in the short two-day time period before the event. Before I even stepped foot into the quaint farmhouse in the rural Pennsylvania town of Blue Bell (where the event was held), I was inspired by this writer's beautiful writing and amazing ability to illustrate dynamic characters and draw readers into the plot.
Listening to Ms. Phillips speak about her work was a true source of inspiration for me. It reminded why I'm so passionate about books and why I want to be part of the publishing industry. An event like this transforms reading, an activity that is typically a solitary one, into something so much bigger than oneself. Sitting in a room full of people who had all been moved by this writer reminded me how powerful reading can be.
A blog posted by Len Vlahos, "The Signed Book," provides further insight into the value of an event like this. In the blog, Vlahos writes about his experience as a featured author at Anderson's Bookshop "Pre-Pub Club" for teens and teachers, where he discussed his book The Scar Boys. About fifty people attended this event, thirty of them teens, and he describes it as a "magical night." But the responses he received from the attendees were exceptionally powerful and moving to him. One person even wrote, "Thank you for writing this book. Now I am not alone." He explains how inspiring it was for him to receive such incredible feedback from people who connected to his work, saying, "That even one person was able to feel a sense of connection or belonging because of something I wrote is...is...words fail me."
I think it is so valuable for people to attend events like these. Even as someone who loves reading and whole-heartedly believes in its value, I had fallen away from it in the midst of a busy schedule. But now I'm making an effort to find time each day to read, even if my pace is slower compared to what it used to be. Sometimes we just have to be reminded why we fell in love with reading in the first place.