by Emily Plaisted
Growing up, I was always an avid reader, and I found I was at my happiest when I was lost in the world of Rowling, Dahl or Blyton. I loved that I was able to go to Hogwarts and learn spells, visit a chocolate factory with everlasting gobstoppers and ice cream that wouldn’t melt, or even go on adventures with the Famous Five. It provided escapism from everyday life, and I found it incredible that authors had the imagination to create these fantastical worlds and characters.
However, I found that my avid reading stopped when I was in secondary school, in particular my final two years when I was in the midst of my GCSE’s. My fantasy world of witchcraft and wizardry was quickly replaced with revision guides, flashcards, notes and past papers. Rather than remembering plot lines and character names I had to memorise circle theorems and mitosis, which wasn’t nearly as exciting!
Whenever I had a spare minute, the last thing I wanted was to read more books, even if they were fictional, so I quickly grew out of the habit of reading. Reading for me had always been pleasurable, yet when I was studying, I felt like reading became a chore and so mundane that all the joy had been taken out of it.
It also wasn’t seen as ‘cool’ to read and as a teenager it was desperately important to me to just fit in, so I participated in all the teenage trends that other people were doing, which largely concerned social media rather than reading.
My outlook on reading changed during the first lockdown, when I found an old Agatha Christie book on our shelf at home. I thought nothing of it and simply just wanted to pass the time, but I quickly found that I was absorbed in the mystery and couldn’t put it down until I found out who had killed Mr Ratchett on the Orient Express. When I’d finished, I realised how much I’d missed the feeling of being completely immersed in a good book, the triumph of finishing it and then the excitement of choosing what to read next.
I started to read so much more after that, and found reading to be just as exciting now as it was when I was young, so I was determined to keep up the habit. My housemates also read a lot and we’re always recommending books to one another that we think each other would like. I am also part of a book club and thoroughly enjoy talking about an array of books on various topics with people who share a common interest with me.
Reading is often promoted because it improves your vocabulary, widens your knowledge and improves your English skills, which in truth it does, and I’ve found that to be true for me; but fundamentally, I enjoy reading and can’t wait to find out what literary world I am about to discover next!