The Streakiest Reader You'll Ever Meet
By Chip Knighton

Chip Knighton's Essay
The Streakiest Reader In The Game
By Chip Knighton

It's pretty clear to me that I do less pleasure reading than I did when I was young. From the time I learned to read, I usually had some book that I was working on up until about high school. Even if it was usually trashy horror novels by Stephen King and R.L. Stine or my dad's sports books by David Halberstam or Dan Jenkins, I still usually had something to read. High school, college and an increased workload changed all that. During the semester I rarely read for pleasure unless a book really jumps out at me. The lack of reading during the semester had started to seep into my breaks, too, as evidenced by my two-year undertaking of The Lord of the Rings that finally came to a conclusion over winter break.
My finishing of The Lord of the Rings corresponded with a surge in my reading habits over winter break. Maybe it was the idea that it was my last big break or the lack of other fun things to do in Roanoke, but I found myself reading more and more. I've always been a night owl, no matter what the activity, and over the break I found myself staying up to 4 in the morning trying to finish a book after reading for a good portion of the afternoon. I attribute all of this to a book I read on a recommendation from my best friend, Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Most of my reading ideas that really take root in me come from my friends, even if it is usually more mystery or crime-oriented books like The Secret History and Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Occasionally when I am in dire straits of boredom, I get a recommendation from my dad, whose tastes run similar to my trash-loving self, if more towards detective fiction. The Secret History kept me turning pages for two solid days until I had finished it. It helped to rekindle my interest in books and jump-started me into finally reading The Return of the King. A Christmas gift from my mother, Pat Conroy's My Losing Season, also figured into my reading jag over the break.
These reading surges occur once every year or so for me. They usually correspond with a break in routine, such as my vacation with my family last summer, which saw me polish off American Psycho and David Icke's ...And the Truth Will Set You Free, both of which are admittedly guilty pleasures. Any break in routine can cause me to pick up every book I can find and finish them off. Despite the fact that I seem to have more free time at school, I find it much more difficult to read for pressure during the semester or even over breaks in Charlottesville - many more distractions.
Because of this, I don't know whether I can keep up this pleasure reading binge. As an English major, keeping up with my assigned reading is hard enough. However, I can't help but think back to a conversation from a class last semester, where a fellow student wondered aloud why college students think nothing of watching two hours of TV but cringe at the thought of reading any more than their teachers mandate. Hopefully I can convince myself to trade a few hours of Playstation for a book.
I do have a few books on deck on my reading list. I've been meaning to read Salman Midnight's Children ever since it was assigned for my ENGL 383 class three semesters ago, and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls has been sitting on my shelf for several months. And after enjoying The Secret History so much, I plan to pick up Tartt's most recent book, The Little Friend. I don't know whether I'll get to them anytime soon, but I imagine that graduation will speed my reading habits for a little while. Once I transition into the "real world," I imagine that my pleasure reading will increase exponentially.