Reading and Me
By Kristen Buergert

Reading plays a very important role in my life. Ever since I can remember, well-read individuals impressed me. Instead of people with stellar jobs or amazing hobbies, it was someone who could hold conversations about novels, old and new, and relate one to the other or pick apart the meaning behind the words that stole my attention. Of course, as a child, it was less intellectual than that, but not too far off. I started like many kids did, with Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High Twins. Though they weren't works of art, they increased my reading speed and comprehension. I remember being so proud that my teachers always placed me in Reading Group #1. After I recognized that my love of reading helped so much in other areas of my life, it became an everyday thing. I still have the library of children series books at home. And now today, my shelves are still shoved, stacked, and crowed with books placed, thrown, and piled.
In college, I've had the opportunity to read things that I would never have picked up on my own, but that have expanded my choices for pleasure reading. I almost have to laugh at using "college" and "pleasure reading" in the same sentence, since it's almost oxymoronic. High school came easier to me, and so I had so much more free time. With hundreds and hundreds of pages to read a week in college, I've definitely created definable reading habits. Like much of what my English classes require of me, I choose to read fiction novels mostly when I read for pleasure. They will be of almost any genre, except for sci-fi. I hate sci-fi novels!! My absolute favorites, read in the last few years, include The Count of Monte Cristo, The Godfather, and The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing. Whether I really love a novel or not definitely depends upon t he kind of emotional connection that I receive from the book. I love to love the characters. That often means that the characters need to be hurting for something in some way, be searching for a kind of closure, peace, or love, but most importantly, the author must eloquently convey that hurt. I want to feel something. If I am in a great mood and, after reading some of my latest novel, I feel down, that is okay for me. I really believe that people don't feel enough anymore. They stare blankly at a television or computer screen so often that it's not often anymore; it's their life. I admit to the TV binges and definitely spend a good amount of time on the computer, but they are still supplementary to what stimulates me. It is still very important for me to be well-read.
As I said before, pleasure reading in college is hard. I read most often on breaks and usually keep a book for each semester that I pick up when I can. When I am at home, there are so few distractions. There are less people to go out with at night and on the weekends. There are almost no worries. It really makes for the best reading environment. I snuggle up on our huge living room sofa, considering my brother is not fulfilling his lifelong dream of beating every game on Playstation, and dive in. It's great during the day when everyone is at school or work or during the evening right after dinner and late night when everything is quiet except for your own motions. For me rainy Sunday afternoons, with no errands to run and no one to call, are things to dream about.