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.