Reading in High School vs. College

I've talked quite a bit about the differences in my reading life during my high school and college years. If you've been around on my blog for awhile or know me in person, you'll know that I read way more in high school. My Goodreads will attest to that, as will my friends. I always had a book, I was always reading when I could, and I blew through so many series that I find it hard to believe I was ever behind on new releases.

Now, freshly graduated from college with my undergraduate degree, I'm slowly getting back into reading. I'm trying to get back in touch with my voracious love for books that I had in high school, something I lost among the homework assignments and shifts at work during my college years.

It may come as a surprise to you, but I wasn't always a big reader in high school. Moving to Hong Kong did something to my reading. For some reason, I stopped reading as much even though I had all my books with me and access to even more books. It wasn't until I read The Hunger Games that I found myself falling in love with books again. In four years, I read probably 120 books. My Goodreads can't exactly back that up because I didn't start using it until the end of 2013, but I know I blew through books like it was nobody's business. I read 111 books between 2014-2015. Most of them were series that either just finished or were starting to gain a lot of hype. And I loved it.

My rediscovered love for books and my new access to bookstores and international shipping meant that my shelves slowly filled up with books. I had nearly 200 books by the time I left for college, and that only grew in my absence. My sister lovingly added to those shelves, which are now starting to bend under the weight of our library.

But the biggest thing I remember about my reading life in high school was how reading slumps didn't really exist. I read all the time and I read extensively before bed. There were so many times when I would settle in to read, only to look at the clock and realize it was past 2AM.

I blew through Percy Jackson and the Olympians in a week, reading it for the first time. The Hunger Games introduced me to love triangles and what it meant to so fervently defend my ship (I will always be Team Gale). The Legend series made me understand how it was possible to fall in love with a fictional guy with just one line. The Lunar Chronicles showed me that I can enjoy fairytale retellings as long as they're well-written, and also that I have a greater capacity to love sci-fi than I thought.

This is also when I rediscovered my love of mysteries. It had been a long time since I had read Nancy Drew or the Famous Five series, but I randomly tried an ARC from NetGalley that reminded me how much I love watching pieces of a story fall into place and how my brain has been trained to put together clues. That eventually grew into my love of crime shows and true crime.

Reading then was such a big part of my life, I knew I wanted that to carry over into my college years too.

That wasn't exactly what happened. Adjusting to college life during my first semester, I barely read anything. Four books in four months, three of which were required reading. I wasn't able to find time to read while I balanced homework, extra-curriculars, and making new friends. It wasn't a priority anymore, even though I wanted to get back into it. Admittedly, I also struggled because I finally had access to Netflix and Hulu, streaming services that were either limited or unavailable in Hong Kong. For the first time, I could watch a ton of different shows without having to comb through sketchy streaming sites for a link that actually worked.

I have never achieved my Goodreads goal in my time at college, something else I've talked about. While I did read a lot and read for fun, it wasn't quite the same. I never felt the same connection to those books, with the exception of Vicious, Warcross, The Sun is Also A Star, My Sister Rosa, and The Hate U Give. I never quite felt like I could read without taking away from time I could be spending on school or at work. And with a major that also required a lot of reading, I was consistently burnt out.

Arriving at college with 20+ books, that collection grew despite my lack of reading. I was slow about it, knowing that I always would have limited shelf space and that I would be moving dorms every year. More books meant more weight, and it was better to keep things on the minimum if I could. Even now, I'm telling myself to hold off on buying books until after I make another move, my 8th in four years (different dorms, summers at home, and into an apartment).

For some reason, balancing my college life and my reading life was something I found daunting and nearly impossible. A few of my other readers friends were able to do it, but I struggled.

Now that I've graduated, I've been easing myself back into reading and making it a habit. I did a small experiment where I read every night for a week. I've picked up books that I think I'll love. And I've finally given myself permission to have good days and bad days while reading.

For the first time in four years, I've missed it on the days when I don't read and I haven't beaten myself up about it. Maybe it has to do with me looking for jobs, working on re-writing my novel, or even that I've been reading WebToons, which have helped me fall back in love with reading. What's important is that I've slowly given myself time to rediscover my love of reading and the passion to keep reading and picking up new books.

I think I've finally gotten to a better place with my reading, one that feels familiar to what I experience in high school. Though things will change again when I get a job and begin working, I have confidence that I'll find a new way to keep books and reading in my life.

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