All in Good Fun
By Jessica Kim
Until this assignment, I never thought about why I read
the books that I read. There's never been a method, no precise
system of selecting one over another. I may pick at random, or
consult the NY Times bestsellers list, or browse the "new arrivals"
at the store. Or I'll return to ones that I was forced to read
either in high school or at the University and enjoy them without
the pressure of formulating a thesis and support.
The last book I read is Survivor by Chuck
Palahniuk. I came across Palahniuk after watching the movie,
Fight Club. I loved the movie, so I read the book. The first
time through, I wished there were some Cliffs Notes to go along with
it. The book (and the movie) raised questions but provided few
answers. I wanted some higher power (i.e. all those highly trained
writers for Mr. Cliffs) to tell me what I was supposed to think so I
could make myself believe I understood. Wishful thinking. Three
read-throughs, two highlighters, and pages of scrawled notes later,
I learned two things: 1) my AP English teacher had trained me well,
and 2) I was still swimming in questions. Palahniuk made me think
too much. I decided to take a break from him and ask Oprah what I
should read next. That didn't last long. I read some of the books
that I didn't read but was supposed to in high school. I read all of
John Grisham's books after learning one of my former teachers was an
extra in the movie version of The Pelican Brief. I explored
books like The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh of Homer and
The F Word. A couple dozen books later, I found myself bored.
I looked under my bed and found my dusty copy of Fight Club.
I wasn't interested in giving myself an ulcer with another
read-through, so I went and bought another one of Palahniuk's books,
Survivor. I spent this past winter break reading it. It's
about a guy that grew up in a cult. He knows more about bed linens
than does Martha Stewart. His employers are into S&M. He runs a fake
suicide hotline. And he's afraid of sex. I can only imagine what
kind of person you think I am for enjoying it. =) What can I say?
People interest me, no matter how unconventional, shocking, or
normal they seem. Everyone has a story. Have you tried Running
with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs? You don't know what it
means to have a dysfunctional family until you've been inside the
life of Burroughs.
I know it's cliche to say reading provides an escape
from the world, but why say it's cliche when we all know it's true?
The lives in every book I've read are so much more entertaining,
glamorous, exciting than the one I lead, even when it involves
death, destruction, and mayhem. All those secret fantasies that I
never share with anyone - those are the lives I read about in books.
Besides, picking up a book and hiding behind the pages is the
easiest way to ignore all those annoying people in my life. I can
say, "I can't talk now, I have to read," and just the thought of
reading is enough to make their stomachs churn. But for now, time is
limited. Life always has moments when it gives me a million things
to do at once with no time to take a breather. Fourth year, last
semester is one of those times. Until late May, I'll have to hold
off on diving into "for fun" books.
Um, what I meant to say was, until then I'll have lots
of great reading to do. With three English classes, there will be no
end to the books I'll be reading. No end. No end at all.
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