Over 638 Books Later...
By Aisha Dharamsi

Though I can't remember the first book I read I do remember the one that my younger sister (six years my junior) read first. It was some version of Sleeping Beauty and she was about two and a half or three. Of course she couldn't actually read at that time, but she had all the words memorized to the book because she'd make my mom or dad read it to her at least two times a day. She would hold it in her lap and recite the story verbatim, despite the fact that the words she was saying usually did not correspond to the page of text she had flipped to. Reading has always played a huge role in my life, mainly because my parents would put a book in my hands at any moment during my childhood instead of a computer game or the television remote. I have vivid recollections of my many trips to the library where I'd max out my library card and the librarians would stare at my mom and myself incredulously as if we didn't fully grasp that all 30 books had to be returned in two weeks. In fifth grade my elementary school had a competition for book reading, and that year I was the winner with 638 books read.
It seems as though once I was forced to read books for school that all reading for pleasure ceased. I don't know if that's because I just became too busy to do any outside reading, but I think it may have been because I subconsciously associated reading in general with a chore. The only real reading for fun I did was during the summer months, and I can remember going through a period where I read Christopher Pike novels, then Stephen King, and then Michael Crichton books. So I suppose I've been a stickler for the good old fashioned trashy horror books with no real substance in them. Kind of mindless I think, but I guess I read them to escape the feeling that I need to analyze something, since there's nothing really to analyze in books like that.
As of late, however, I've actually been reading some legitimate books, mainly because my roommate is an English major and she's been throwing some of her favorites at me. I try to read a little during the semester, and though my goal of one book a semester that's purely pleasure reading has not yet been fulfilled, I still read two or three books during the breaks. I actually think I've lost my love for the fluff thrillers, as my attempt to read Michael Crichton's newest book Prey (which he got paid $15 million for) ended in disappointment because it was pretty hackneyed. I think I like classically acclaimed novels; I loved books like Lolita, David Copperfield, and Wuthering Heights. I also do read some books on the best seller list if I've heard a lot of good things about them, I'm a Harry Potter fan, I do have to admit, and I've read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Lovely Bones. I think I try to pick the books I read carefully, since I don't really have too much time to do extra reading, and it irks me to waste my time on what I consider a bad book. I suppose I've found a good balance of trying books that are generally considered "good" and a select few that have recently won praise as best sellers. I can't really discern a trend in the genre I read, I find I enjoy a classic love story as much as a mystery, and I think for me a good book can fall under many categories and classifications.
Being a Biology major as well as an English major, I find the escape from the scientific world into the literary one has helped me maintain my sanity on more than one occasion. I think what I gain from reading is that instead of learning facts about why humans are alive for chemical and biological reasons I am able to think of my own spiritual and emotional existence in life.