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Falling Back in Love with Reading

Last year I realized that law school sucked my love of reading out of me. I had to read so much for my classes that the last thing I wanted to during my down time was read for pleasure. At the end of the day the most I’d read was Texts From Last Night. After the bar exam my brain was so fried I couldn’t read anything for two days.

I <3 2 read by katerha from Flickr

I <3 2 read by katerha from Flickr

Now, I come from a family of voracious readers, so it’s weird that I barely read anything for years for my own enjoyment. I used to devour books. I made the decision at the end of last year to make reading a priority – and it’s been heavenly.

My goal this year is to read 2 books a month – one for fun and one for business. It’s hard to make myself read the business books, but the books for fun have been absolutely wonderful. I flop into bed every night and tell myself that I’m going to read 10 pages from my book, and I usually end up reading closer to 20. I read until I’m so tired that the words on the page are blurry.

I love to read nonfiction work. There’s something about reading about a person’s real life that is gripping. When I read nonfiction, I’m way more likely to remember it because it’s real. I forget big chunks of the fiction books I read and I think it’s because my brain knows the story isn’t real, so why bother remembering it. I recently read Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A modest bestiary by David Sedaris. I love David Sedaris’ work so when I saw he had a book out that I hadn’t read, I checked it out from the library without looking beyond the front cover. It turned out to be a collection of short fictional stories about animals. I read the book (It didn’t do anything for me – sorry David) and each night I picked it up, I couldn’t remember what I had read the night before – it just wasn’t important enough to remember.

I rarely buy books that I know I’m going to read once unless I know the author, so I’ve been loving the Phoenix Public Library this year. I took suggestions from my friends and my virtual bookshelf is up to 68 books that I want to read. The first book I checked out was Anderson Cooper’s Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival. It was fantastic! Right now I’m reading You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by Michael Ian Black and I’m loving it. I’m looking forward to trying out the library’s ebook borrowing program so I can get library books on my Kindle. The library has a great system where you can put a book on hold and it will be waiting for you on the first floor with your name on it, but getting books without having to leave the house is even better.

Reading is still a chore for me to get started each time but I’m so grateful to be reading books again. I’m looking forward to reading Heads in Beds: a reckless memoir of hotels, hustles, and so-called hospitality by Jacob Tomsky; Argo: how the CIA and Hollywood pulled off the most audacious rescue in history by Antonio Mendez; and I Killed: true stories of the road from America’s top comics by Ritch Shydner and Mark Schiff.

Poolside Studying

I live in Arizona.  It gets obnoxiously hot here.  Since this semester started, the coolest day was still in the high 90s.  It’s not uncommon for the high temperature for the day to be around 108 degrees.  In the past, I joked about laminating my flash cards and studying in my pool.  I decided to put that idea into action this week in regards to reading.

A few days ago, I was frustrated from being cooped up in my house all day, reading my casebooks.  The sun was starting to set, and it was beautiful outside.  It was too much for me to keep looking at my pool through the living room window.  I put on my swimsuit and grabbed a casebook, my highlighters, a bottle of water, and a towel, and headed outside.

I folded my towel into fourths and laid it at the edge of the pool.  I needed something soft underneath my elbows.  I put  my book in the middle of the towel and my water and highlighters on the side and got back to work.  I’m pretty short, so I had to stand on the bottom step leading into the pool or else I couldn’t see my whole book.  This system worked out remarkably well.  Without the distractions of my cell phone, computer, and household chores, I got through my reading faster than ever.  This system worked equally well at night with the help of the outdoor lighting.

Yesterday, I couldn’t focus in the house, so I headed out to the pool in the middle of the day.  It was about 103 degrees outside and the sun was glaring down on me.  It was so hot that my highlighters were almost too hot to hold.  Previously, I purposely kept my hands out of the water to avoid getting my book wet, but the sun was too hot to stay focused.  I periodically took a 2-minute break to fully submerge myself in the water and cool off.  It was so refreshing.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a big fan of swimming or pools but this is where I’ll be studying for the next few weeks.   My plan is to be back in the pool sometime in April and to use this as a primary study location until I take the Bar in July.

Maintaining Perspective in Law School

I’m taking six classes this semester.  In two classes, the professors like to assign 70-150 pages of reading per class.  I’m also working on two papers and doing research for a professor.  Needless to say, I’m pretty busy.  I feel like I’m constantly running between classes, work, and other commitments.   When I have “free time,” I’m struggling to get through my immense reading assignments and hoping that I’ll remember half the information.  I had to quickly accept that the majority of my weekends this semester would be taken up with reading.

By four o’clock this past Saturday afternoon, I was tired of reading cases.  There was no end in sight, and, if anything, I was becoming a little panicked by the amount of work I had left to do.  I decided if my Saturday night was going to be spent alone with my books, then I deserved to study with cake.

I don’t keep junk food in my house.  My rule is I can eat any junk food I want if I’m willing to leave the house and get it.  One of my guilty pleasures is the “single serving” of white sheet cake with frosting from Safeway.   I usually make myself walk or ride my bike to get my junk food, but the sky was turning dark with storm clouds and I didn’t want to get caught in the rain.  I also didn’t feel like I had the time to spare, so I opted to drive.

Tybee Island
Image by Rebecca_M. via Flickr

As I pulled out of my driveway, the reality of my life hit me like a ton of bricks.  I thought, “Wow, I can read.”  I spent  my drive to the store thinking about how many people in the world don’t know how to read, especially women.  I am surrounded by piles of books and more information than I know what to do with.  How many people don’t have the opportunity to go to school?  Who am I to bitch about all the opportunities I have, when the majority of people on the planet never have the chance to go to law school or even get close to it?  My life is awesome, even when it’s hard.

This experience doesn’t change the fact that I miss seeing my friends, getting a full night of sleep, or having enough time to shower every day.  It has, however, made the long lonely hours more bearable.

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