When I was in 5th grade, I read the unabridged version of David Copperfield.
Our school had a contest surrounding a program called AR. Students were supposed to read as many books as possible in one month and then take a quiz online to test their comprehension. The points you earned from the quiz would be determined by the difficulty of the book and the accuracy of your answers. The class with the most points won a pizza party.
One month, I was at my local library and saw this huge beautiful book. It was yellow with a classic look to it. I opened it and read a page or two. I could hardly understand what I was reading but 9-year-old me wanted this book. I remember feeling so proud as I checked it out with the librarian at the front desk.
I spent the next week struggling but trudging my way through the entire story.
I don’t remember anything from the story of David Copperfield. I’m pretty sure 9-year-old me wasn’t able to grasp the entire story either. But by some miracle, the next day at school when I showed up and took my AR quiz, I passed. The book was considered so large and complex in the system that my passing grade earned our class 60 AR points.
The pizza party was awesome. My friends and classmates were happy and proud of me. My teacher gifted me a Barnes & Noble’s gift card for my job well done. I felt on top of the world.
I miss 9-year-old Julianna sometimes.
I didn’t read David Copperfield because I had this big elaborate plan to be a hero and win the 5th-grade pizza party. I read it because I fell in love with the old book cover, it’s energy and musty smell. The book encompassed things I wanted to be at that age- mature, cultured, and mysterious. But mostly, I knew even at that age, the best weekends are spent snuggled up on the couch, lost in a good book.
These days, I’m not sure what I read for anymore. I don’t read as much as I used to. And I don’t think I even read for pleasure anymore. Everything has an endgame, a goal, or a purpose. I find myself collecting a lot of “you must read these books” kind of lists from people I admire and respect. But then getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume I “need” to read in such little time.
There’s a lot of good that can come from consciously choosing the genres of books you want to consume. But there’s also a quiet joy in strolling through a library and picking up whatever your eye catches on.
I’ve experienced the profound relationship between reading and writing. That’s why this month, in addition to writing a blog post every day, I also vow to read from three books every day- one for improving skills, one for mental health/self-improvement, and one for pleasure.
I’m hoping I can reawaken a younger, carefree version of me. A little me who read out of curiosity, lost track of time more easily, and had a bigger imagination.
It’s time to learn how to read again.