It’s reading time! I jump on to the black, leather couch that sits to the side in our living room, my Mom settling down next to me. In her hand, a fresh, new book from the library. Oh, how I love visits the library. No, it isn’t the dirty building full of screaming toddlers, sulking teens using the internet for alternative purposes, or stressed parents looking for something to distract their kids that makes me love these visits. It’s what travels on my lap on the way home from these visits: bags upon bags of rented books. Too many to fit on my small eight-year-old lap, the books usually lay strewn around the open cabin of our white mini-van. My older brothers and I are so excited we usually can’t even wait twenty-five minutes to start diving into the magical contents that lay within the used pages.
As I settled into the couch, a wide grin stretched from ear to ear. Who didn’t love reading? The rest of the afternoon consisted of my Mom reading book after book to me until, sadly, she was pulled away to make dinner. This was the life!
Four years later the thought of sitting down and reading a book was a literal nightmare. What happened? How did everything change so drastically? Some would call it puberty. Others would call it a change in preferences. I don’t know what I would call it. Maybe I wanted to do more than sit down and, from my perspective, read boring text that would teach me nothing. Besides, there were so many other better things to do. I loved soccer, baseball, running, and pretty much anything that included moving my spry thirteen-year-old body. Also, I couldn’t help but start to notice the occasional girls that crossed my path every day. Ok, so maybe that was puberty.
“Brandon, have you finished your reading for the day yet?”
“Not yet,” I say as I plummet angrily onto the couch. Yes, it is the same leather couch that had grudgingly accepted me years ago when I had excitedly jumped into its soft cushions. I’ve changed. Most would say I’ve changed for the worse. Who would blame me? Nothing makes any sense as I quickly scan the small font in front of me. Page after page of meaningless text. Why am I doing this? There are so many better things I could be doing. I keep prodding myself on. Just get it over with, Brandon! No, I’m not going through a “stage”. I’m still a “good kid”. I obey my parents, read my Bible, and am kind to the bustling world around me. My interests are just changing along with my body.
Finally! Finished! I spring up as I cast the cursed book to the side. Now I can have some fun. No more thinking or reading pointless stories.
“What is your book about, Brandon?”
Darn it! I’m never going to be able to escape the clutches of “it”!
“It’s just about the life of this girl,” I murmur.
“Are you liking it?”
“I guess,” I coughed out the words, growing more and more impatient. Please, no more questions!
“Good to hear!”
Books were so overrated. Why trap yourself in a fixed position for hours at a time when you could be getting something done? Yeah, a cup of straight coffee, a warm blanket, and a thick, leather-bound book made a great Facebook post but did people really enjoy reading? Whatever. Nothing would change my opinion as I continued with my busy thirteen-year-old lifestyle, enjoying the legs, not the brain, God had given me.
I ease myself down onto the tan, faux couch in my living room. No, it’s not the same couch that happily accepted the excited child and grudgingly received the grumbling teen. This one gratefully accepts an eager reader. I pull out The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Gosh, when last did I have time to read? Yes, it’s technically a school assignment. I didn’t choose to read this book to read because I wanted to. Does this change anything for me? For thirteen-year-old Brandon, it might have. Now, I would read anything if I was given free time and a book. Not even the choppy jargon of Tom Sawyer would deter me from reading Mark Twain. What’s influenced such a change within the boy who used to hate reading?
The past five years has changed my opinions. I’ve realized that reading isn’t a chain, but a key. An escape from the whirlwind called my life. The idea that reading is boring or is only for old people is a complete fallacy. Nothing will slow me down and stimulate such vibrant thought processes like a good book. It is hard to do this, though. Whether it’s my Snapchat story or busy Instagram feed, there’s always something vying for my limited attention. Trying to distract me. I will always have to make the choice to read.
My journey in reading can be adequately described as the ocean tide. In and out. I’ve grown from a joyous child longing for his mother to read “just a little bit longer” to an adolescent who couldn’t stand reading the thin print of novels to, finally, a high schooler who has learned to appreciate reading for what it is. As I said, in and out. My journey hasn’t always been enjoyable and I don’t even believe that it is truly over yet. I will continue down the path of learning, growing my vault of fresh ideas and innovative thoughts. I look forward to the future and gaze eagerly into what the next steps in my journey hold for me.