Bringing Back Books

Recently, I have gotten back into reading with a bang. When I was a kid, I would consume books daily, burning through chapter books at the ripe age of seven. When I got into middle school, however, I started to fall out of love with reading. It began with reading a book maybe every month or so, then just reading for classes, and then even finding that a chore. However, more recently, I have yet again become obsessed with books, and it’s been amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, even when I fell out of love with reading, I would still buy books, I just could never stay interested in them. The books either didn’t instantly pull me in or I found myself easily distracted by other things in life that made it hard to focus. However, this has changed a lot for me recently.

So, why did I suddenly want to start reading again? In the age of social media and constant mental stimulation from a phone, I was getting bored. I found myself constantly on my phone, mindlessly scrolling through the pages, disinterested in a lot of it. I mean, sure, social media can be great, but sometimes you just need a break. Plus, it does help when you find a book that you become newly obsessed with.

During the spring, I went back to Barnes and Noble, pacing the horror aisle looking for a book that piqued my interest. One that stood out to me was called Theme Music. Curious, I bought the book and found myself reading it whenever I got the chance. While this book wasn’t exactly horror, it was more of what I discovered to be a psychological thriller. This was a book that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I read it.

The book took me about four months to finish, but once I did, I wanted more. This is when I turned to ‘BookTok.’ BookTok is a phrase that is a spin on the name of the app ‘TikTok.’ When you look up BookTok, hundreds of thousands of videos populate your screen with recommendations for book lovers of any age.

While BookTok has been amazing for me and given me so many good book suggestions, others think it may not be the actual books that people are liking, but the idea of having the books. Eleanor Raspa (‘23) has been an avid reader for a long time. She too has heard about BookTok and found some good recommendation, but she thinks maybe others enjoy the books for different reasons. “I think it’s about the aesthetic [of the books]… I think a lot more people are interested in reading, but I feel like people see the BookTok videos, get the book, and then don’t read it.”

I agree with Raspa on this; I feel as if there were certainly times, I would buy books because the cover looked pretty or it was popular, but I never read it or didn’t enjoy it. Even if sometimes this ‘book look’ is more to seem trendy, I still have found some great recommendations, and even a new author that I and many other people in my age demographic have become obsessed with. Her name is Collen Hoover.

Collen Hoover writes books for older teens/adults, and her books connected with me instantly. The first book I read of hers was Verity, which stands out from her other books because it’s more of a thriller and less of the typical romance she usually writes. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book. I was nervous I would fall out of love fast and it would sit to die on my shelf. I finished the book in 48 hours.

After reading one, I now have what I am referring to as the ‘Hoover Addiction.’ The next book of hers I read was It Ends with Us. This book dove into such sensitive material but was written so darkly and so well. She made me feel for every character in the worst and best way possible. Because school was starting, this took me a little bit longer to read, but I did pick it up whenever I had the chance and cried three times while reading it too.

Not only is reading super fun to do, but it can also be incredibly beneficial. According to an article written by Healthline Magazine titled, “Benefits of Reading Books,” reading more can help reduce stress, prevent age related cognitive decline, build your vocabulary, and so much more. And I’m not the only one who’s been enjoying reading recently.

In a poll I had done on Instagram, I asked fellow Oyster River students if they felt the same as me and have begun to read more as we have gotten older. Out of 34 students, 53% said they had begun to read more, while 47% said they hadn’t, and that’s okay too! Sometimes, reading may not be for everyone, and it can feel like a drag, but finding the right thing to read is the same as finding the right TV show to watch.

To encourage even more reading as I go through the year, I signed up for Advanced Seminar in Literature, a class all about reading offered to the seniors at Oyster River. This class dives into the complex meanings behind different pieces of classic American literature. While I’ll have to wait until next semester to take this class, right now I can rely on the new book I will be starting, Reminders of Him, by you guessed it, Collen Hoover. I also have received some great student book recommendations I plan to check out too, and you should too.

-Tess Brown