This blog was originally posted in September of 2022 and has since been updated.
Want to know a secret?
For a long time, I didn't like to read.
It's shocking, I know. As someone who works for a library, just admitting that fact borders on blasphemy.
But it's true.
Here's the thing: I loved reading as a kid. I would tote piles of books with me around the house. I would walk around with my nose buried in the pages. I would compete with my fellow classmates to see who could achieve the highest reading level.
And then, something changed.
From the start of middle school through the end of college, I rarely read for pleasure. I started to dread reading. I would put off reading assignments until the last minute and then sob my way through five chapters the night before I was being quizzed on them.
So what changed? How did this budding young bookworm turn into someone who started proudly declaring the words "I'm just not a reader"?
In hindsight, there were a few different factors that contributed to the decline in my love of reading.
One is that I didn't like being forced to read in school. Having to spend so much time reading books I wouldn't have chosen myself eventually gave me a chip on my shoulder.
As I got older, I developed some other issues that made the act of reading difficult for me. I started to avoid reading at all unless I absolutely had to for school, and even then it was a struggle just to get through one chapter.
Lastly, by the time I was in middle school, liking to read wasn't "cool" anymore.* I didn't want to be seen as a book-loving nerd by the kids in my class, so I tried to dampen my love of reading whenever I was around them. Eventually, I think I even convinced myself that it was true.
*Thanks to things like BookTok, however, this is not the case anymore!
Lastly, getting a smartphone contributed to my reading slump. Suddenly there were infinite distractions at my fingertips that required less mental effort than reading. To this day it still takes a lot of self-discipline for me to put my phone down and pick up a book instead.
By the time I was a freshman studying English in college (ironic considering how much reading English majors have to do), the activity I once loved, one that had always provided a sense of escape and comfort, was now a source of stress and anxiety.
So what changed? How did reading become a source of joy for me again, to the point that in the year 2022 I read almost 70 books for pleasure?
For one thing, after I graduated from college, no one was forcing me to read anymore. I had the freedom to read (or not read) any book I pleased, without worrying about being graded on my knowledge of the plot or my ability to write a ten-page essay on it. Reading became something I could do just for fun again.
For another thing, I started working for a library.
It sounds cheesy, but it's the truth. Working for a library right after college — and for seven years after that — helped me fall in love with reading again.
Maybe it was seeing all the books coming in and out of our building and realizing just how many are out there. Every day I was exposed to titles and authors I'd never heard of before, ones that were way more interesting to me than the ones on my required reading lists in school.
Perhaps it was meeting other people who had no shame when it came to their love of reading. These are people whose eyes lit up when they saw the stack of books waiting for them on the holdshelf, people who would babble on about the book they'd stayed up all night to finish to anyone who would listen.
(Usually the person listening was me, and I loved it!)
It may have been the times I got to help a child in the library find something new to read, and seeing how excited they got when I handed them the book reminded me of a time when I felt the same way. Or it could have been all the beautifully illustrated picture books I got to read aloud during storytimes, books that reminded me of the magic of being a kid again.
Whatever it was, it worked, because I now love all things reading.
I love talking about reading.
I love getting recommendations from other people who love to read.
I love adding titles to my TBR (To Be Read) list on Goodreads, and I especially love adding titles to my Read (past tense) list on Goodreads. (The first list grows much faster than the second one, but that's okay.)
I love making Reels and TikToks that have to do with reading. My favorite thing is when fellow readers comment on a video and say "Me too!"
There's just something unique about the reading community as a whole. Even if the types of books we enjoy are completely different, we still understand each other in a special way. We can connect over the unique joy of losing yourself in a story, of both falling in love with and having our hearts broken by characters that someone else created.
So in conclusion, after spending too many years cringing at the sight of a book, I can happily say that I love reading again.
And I have our little library to thank for that.
Kati Davis has been working for Avon Grove Library for seven years. Some of her favorite books are The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Kati loves cats, bubble tea, and graphic novels. One of her favorite parts of her job is running the library's social media accounts. She especially enjoys making Instagram Reels!