Required Reading: How Prescriptive Reading Ruined my Hobby

When I was a kid, I was a prolific reader. It was the thing I won badges for in school and the thing that swept me up and away from real life. It was my one true hobby as a kid: it was the thing that trumped all other things to do.

And then I went to university.

It’s not that going to university is a bad thing. I’m a college professor now, and I live and love being on campus, working with students, helping others find passion in their field. But going to school, for me, wasn’t great for my reading hobby. When I went to university to get my Bachelor’s of Arts in English, I knew I’d have to read what they told me to read (and doing so was an expansive (!) and amazing (!!) experience for me) but little did I know how badly 4 years of prescriptive reading would ruin my enjoyment of pleasure reading.

It was only after those 4 years of learning “good” scholarly canonical literature, that I felt conflicted about what to read next. I began to question my “want” to read something with what I felt I “should” read. I no longer followed my favorite fluffy authors, eagerly awaiting their next piece of fluffy fiction because according to my modernist lit class, all the good author’s were dead.

What happened next was sad, and quite common — I stopped reading. I couldn’t make up my mind on what to read, and so, like a poorly oiled motor, I choked. Sure I picked up the odd Harry Potter or Canada Reads book here and there, I even had a small online book club going for awhile, but ever since I went to school, I haven’t read like I did when I was younger (up all night, can’t put it down, waiting for the next one…that kind of reading).

Fast forward to today — I am standing in the Ottawa Public Library shelves at Rosemount (get your card today!) and picking up my holds. I’ve started reading books in relation to my hobby, with the hopes that it will turn the crank of the reading motor inside me again. I really hope it will, and I’m even considering going TV free for the month of July to help things along.

Does starting with a non-fiction long form style cookbook count?

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I’ll keep you posted.


5 thoughts on “Required Reading: How Prescriptive Reading Ruined my Hobby

  1. I can so relate to your blog. I stopped reading right after university. Was never much of a reader to begin with. But after having children I started again. First with simple books and as they grew older more and more sophisticated ones. Now I’m rereading some of my favorite books to them like: To Kill a Mockingbird and The Outsiders and Moby Dick. My kids love them too.

  2. Hi Kim- I was impressed by reading your passion for reading books. I can definitely let you know that by no means I am a reader except the course materials that I was forced to read during education journey. I have tried so much and can never read more than 2 pages at a time and I find it boring and not lose my patience. Any tips? Any books that you can recommend?

    Your picture of this blog is what caught my attention as I truly enjoy cooking and it is one of my hobby but I cannot cook in a professional kitchen environment, I find that too stressful. If you consider reading cooking books, I have plenty of those and I enjoy reading and following the recipes!!

    • I consider cookbooks reading for sure! Anything that takes us away from screens is a good “brain break” in my opinion. If you are looking for something really fluffy and engaging, I’d recommend the book Crazy Rich Asians. It’s a fun series for sure.

  3. Totally agree! I stopped reading after university and started again a few years later by creating the habit of reading on weekend mornings while having coffee. I would spend a few hours relaxing before starting my day. Now I have kids though. Between making breakfast, hearing the television (that’s on way too loud!) and taking them to their activities, my routine has changed. I do read to them before bed but that’s not the same. I need to find the time to sit and enjoy a book again.

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