I think I’ve read more in the past two weeks than I have over the entire semester.
…Kind of. I was reading a lot of poetry and essays, so it wasn’t as though I wasn’t reading; I just wasn’t reading books. I have made my way through the following since May 14th:
- “A Wild Sheep Chase” by Haruki Murakami (reread)
- “Welcome to Night Vale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
- “These Heroic, Happy Dead” by Luke Mogelson (short stories)
- “An Unattractive Vampire” by Jim McDoniel
- “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
- “The Astronaut Wives Club” by Lily Koppel
I am currently reading “Vampires in the Lemon Grove,” which is a collection of short stories by Karen Russell. Since the time that I’ve been spending reading is typically downtime during subbing (lunch, prep, and that one day where I had a full day of study hall), I’d say I’ve been making pretty good headway, especially since I really hadn’t been reading significantly for a while.
That sounds bad. Let me rephrase it.
Generally speaking, the reading that I have done over the past four years was primarily connected to school. I read a lot in the time frame because I needed to read specific plays and novels, and that isn’t a bad thing, and I think it’s totally reasonable to count the books you read for classes as part of your reading experience. You got through them, didn’t you? And sometimes, you might even have enjoyed them. I think there has only been about one or two books that I had to read in college that I didn’t like, and at least one of them was for a non-English course.
But when you’re taking six courses and at least four of those courses have you scheduled to read at least four major works (with significant work attached to them), there isn’t a lot of time for personal reading. Some people still managed. In freshman year, I think I might have tried, but it was easier for me to decompress from the more serious literature I was engaging with by bulk-consuming comics about superheroes and, occasionally, baseball.
When I was doing my student teaching, I was still trying to get into a reasonable swing of coming up with lessons and grading and reading things that I hadn’t thought about in a serious way since high school. I’m trying to think of full novels or books that I managed to finish; the ones I remember are “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” “Men at Arms,” “Captive Prince,” and “The Life Engineered.” I know Fall 2015 was more productive, reading-wise, but I was only taking four classes (the fewest I had ever taken).
Not to brag, but I can get through a book pretty quickly, as long as it’s a good book and it isn’t too complicated. “The Martian” only took me about three hours. That all comes down to practice, and I’m considerably out of it. At 22 years old, I’m not racing my classmate James to finish the sixth Harry Potter book first–I’m just trying to make up for lost time.
I have a summer reading list of books I probably should re-familiarize myself with before I start teaching anywhere, based on local school curriculum and suggestions from the Common Core website. I haven’t looked at it in favor of getting through the books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet.
In the interest in me saving money (and keeping in mind my impeding relocation), I won’t let myself buy another book until I’ve finished reading all the ones I already have.
As long as I keep substitute teaching, though, that might not be all that difficult a task.