Falling Back In Love With Reading
Ever since I was seven years old and picked up “Harry Potter” because my mom wasn’t reading it to me fast enough for my liking, I’ve had my nose in a book. Sometimes, multiple books at once. I was notorious for always reading in middle school and even read a 1,000 page book written in Ancient Japan for extra credit in my seventh grade history class. I always completed my summer reading list and won prizes at the library at light speed. 25 books to a pizza coupon? Child’s play.
I took AP English classes in high school and became an English major in college. Ironically, that’s when I lost my love of reading. Maybe it was that I had too much assigned reading, or maybe because there weren’t many options for classes and I just kept reading the same old British lit written by white men, but I wasn’t captivated by most of what I read. Except when I took Caribbean Lit. That was the most random class choice, but ended up being one of the most fun.
Recently, I have devoured three books from different genres, and I think they helped me get my groove back.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My best friend from high school is the opposite from me. She wasn’t a major bookworm until middle school, and now can finish a book in a day. While we were in college, she got on a Rainbow Rowell kick and insisted I read some of Rowell’s books. It took me forever, but I finally picked up “Fangirl” at the beginning of this year and WOW. It reminded me of the books I loved in middle/early high school, like any of Meg Cabot’s work: fun, youthful, simple and not taking itself too seriously. What I loved most about “Fangirl” was how relatable it is, especially to me, because the main character is obsessed with writing fanfiction, something I did a lot in high school. She’s also an introvert who sometimes prefers fictional worlds, which again, reminds me of a younger me.
I sped through “Fangirl” faster than any book I’d read in the last few years. It really felt like coming home and snuggling up in a familiar blanket. It was a book that reminded me of so many I read at that pivotal time in my life where I read the most, and I think it reminded me just how much reading means to me. Also, it was just plain fun. It wasn’t classic literature I needed symbolism or a dictionary to understand (not that I don’t love those kinds of books, I do).
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
True crime is a favorite genre of mine for podcasts and documentaries, but it had been quite a while since I read a crime book, fictional or factual. In high school, I had an intense James Patterson phase that coincided with my obsession with the tv show “Castle” (yes, I also read the Castle books). I think around that time, I read upwards of 50 James Patterson books. My penchant for mysteries started with Nancy Drew (still one of my favorite characters in literature) and then once I started watching detective shows, that interest sparked a fire and suddenly, I couldn’t get enough of detective/true crime/law enforcement/murder mystery.
I couldn’t remember if I’d ever read a book about an actual criminal case or serial killer, and then I heard about Michelle McNamara’s work in progress about the Golden State Killer and got very excited. Since starting the podcast My Favorite Murder, I had gotten very involved in the true crime community online and was itching to read this book. It’s tragic that McNamara passed away before “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” was finished, but I am so grateful that her husband helped get it finished, because it is truly a magnificent book.
Nancy Drew is impressive, but Michelle was like the real-life version of her. In addition to her passion for putting the puzzle pieces together in the Original Night Stalker and East Area Rapist cases (which she connected and then renamed as one, the Golden State Killer), McNamara is a remarkable writer. The level of detail and diligence in this book reminded me what makes a good writer, and it’s such a shame we won’t get to read more books from her.
Miss Subways by David Duchovny
I’ve read many celebrity books, from memoirs to fiction, and have come to terms with that fact that most are ghostwritten or just vanity projects. My expectations are set fairly low for celebrity books, because they rarely knock my socks off. However, this one did.
I love “The X-Files” and knew David Duchovny had written a few books, but had not read any of them. I was a little more curious about his books than most celebrities because I remembered reading that he studied literature at Yale and was on his way to becoming a playwright when he started acting. He was promoting his new book on Twitter and a few late night shows, and the premise interested me, so I added it to my reading list. When I found out he was making a book tour stop in San Francisco, I impulsively bought a ticket. It was half interest in the book, half just wanting to see him in person. It’s Fox Mulder, y’all.
The book reading was very enlightening. I found out that all of his books originated as screenplay ideas first - stories he wanted to tell on film. This book, in particular, was inspired by subway rides in New York City with his mother when he was a child. The way he talked about his writing was really cool - he approaches it differently than most traditional writers, but he has that same traditional foundations knowledge any English major has. He also has a clear passion for writing, so I didn’t feel like he would be the type to just slap his name of something done by a ghostwriter.
“Miss Subways” is intriguing for many reasons, including that the main character is a woman, written by a man, which doesn’t always go well. I think Duchovny did a pretty good job of it. The story reminds me a little bit of “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, but not too much that I feel like this book has nothing unique to offer. Duchovny’s style is very engaging and I had a hard time putting this book down, constantly wanting to jump back into the strange world he created. Although I suspected it might be a vanity project when I first heard of it, I was pleasantly surprised and now look forward to reading the rest of his books.
My goal this year is to read at least a book a month and I’m doing pretty well with it so far. Compared to how I used to read, 12 books in a year is a very small number, but I’m learning to fall back in love with reading, and that’s all I care about. I’m also back to tracking my reading Goodreads, so friend me on there if you’d like!
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?