My Reading Journey and Why Book Bullies Are the Worst.

I believe this “photoshoot” was done so that Jordan and I could post them on Tumblr. This must be circa 2007 – 2009?

This is my perfect rainy day: Me, on the couch, curled into a burrito blanket. A lamp, providing the perfect amount of light in the dim, sunless day. A cup of tea, freshly brewed next to me. The sound of the rain on the roof and windows. Incense burning, creating an intoxicating and welcoming smell throughout the house. My nose in an enthralling, adventure filled book.

Throw me on a beach without the rain and with iced tea – I’m equally as happy. Reading has always been my jam. I was so heartbroken to realize that I get car sick when I read (thanks, dad) and couldn’t enjoy a book on our long drives up to see family in Idaho during the summer. Reading was a big thing in my family and it wasn’t so much what you’re reading, as long as you’re reading. I do remember a few times I read during school hours and got in trouble for it:

  • In Kindergarten, we had “nap time”. It was something that little Lauren believed was “optional”. In her mind, why in the world would you sleep if you could stay up reading (this will become a theme in my life)? Fun Fact: “Nap Time” is not optional and my Kindergarten teacher was a demon.
  • In my High School Economics class, my teacher was a person who actually told me how much he disliked my older sister (thanks, sis). Anytime there were any issues in the class, like them being too rowdy, he would get down on me. It even got to the point where people I wasn’t even friends with would stand up and fight for me (one of them even ripped up a detention slip from him). Anyways, one day 60% of our class was out for a retreat and he wasn’t going to teach a class. He gave us a “study hall”. Again, I thought the “studying” was optional seeing as I didn’t have any homework. Some students took naps while others actually did work. I decided to read my non-school related book… Which I immediately got in trouble for. I asked my teacher if he would rather I take a nap, like some of the other students. He said yes. Nap Time: 2, Lauren: 0.
  • In College, I took a required religion class that was probably one of the worst classes I ever took. I finished a quiz early and was waiting for the rest of my class to finish… so I read a non-school book. I was asked to “study” or “read ahead” for his religion class instead. At least I didn’t have to take a nap this time.

In college, I decided to be an English Major. Why? Because I love reading and writing. No, I didn’t really want to be a teacher. I just wanted something I was good at so I didn’t have to work too hard (sorry, mom). It was a very small school so I did get to know all the other English Majors at the time. We all had such different tastes in books and everyone was so damn respectful of everyone’s genre choices. It was beautiful.

After I finished school, I really thought, “Cool, now no one can regulate my reading!” Boy was I wrong.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been introduced to the kids who were smart in high school and now believe they’re the smartest person in the room, no matter what room they go into. You know these people. They’re the ones who tell you that you didn’t like IT FOLLOWS because you simply just don’t ~understand~ it. These were the people who really made me start regulating what I told people I read. If it wasn’t “Literature” or non-fiction (but not self-help books, dear god), I would avoid it. I honestly thought I stopped enjoying reading because I was so concerned with people who would see my bookshelf and say, “Oh, I don’t read ~those~ kinds of books.” Cool, cause I didn’t want to let you borrow them anyway. You seem like the type of person who dog ears pages.

I thought I was leaving bullying back in school. I figured that by the time you’re an adult, you wouldn’t have the time or patience to bully anyone. Something I’ve learned is that if you really want to bully someone badly enough, you’ll find the time. As bullies get older, they learn to craft quick insults and digs to get an immediate (hopefully dramatic) reaction. It sounds like a miserable existence. But here we are. Getting bullied for the books we read as full grown adults.

I graduated to reading mystery novels, thinking that this crowd would think that I’m smart because I can solve these mysteries before the main character can. They weren’t impressed. These books weren’t high brow enough for their ever advancing wisdom. They wouldn’t be caught dead reading a book they enjoyed, they wanted a book that they could talk about at every public gathering so they can sound smarter just because they read that book.

That’s it. That’s what I realized these types of people want. Then I realized that I… had wanted to be one of these people? I bought a kindle a few years ago in the attempt to read more books that I couldn’t read in front of people because they would judge me by the cover. It didn’t work. However, one day, Amazon was having a kindle deal where a ton of books were only $0.99. I figured, sure, why not. I chose one on a whim. I devoured it. Do you know how long it’s been since I utterly devoured a book? Years. I had been reading books that were dense, hard to keep up with, socially responsible. It would take me months to finish a book because I so desperately didn’t want to read it but I so desperately wanted people to see me reading it so that I could be that smart person. I wanted to be able to bring up a book in a conversation and have all eyes on me, saying, “Wow, look at Lauren, she’s so intelligent!” I wanted that validation.

Fuck your validation.

I’ve read over 40 books this year because they’re things I actually enjoy! Imagine that. Cozy Mysteries that also include recipes I can bake or cook? Please sign me up. Did you know that Paranormal Romance was a thing outside of YA novels?? Please let me read about vampires forever. Do I still throw in some non-fiction and “Literature” and “More acceptable” authors? SURE. Why not? I’m working on reading through all of Stephen King’s novels (lord save me). But my point is that I’m just reading things that I want to read, not because I want a bunch of bullies to think that I’m smart. I know I’m smart. If you think I’m dumb because of the books I read… As my dad would say, “Sounds like a personal problem dude”.

So, if you have to bring someone down simply to make yourself happy… Maybe you should take a step back and examine yourself. I have a few self-help books I can recommend…

Find me on GoodReads! I meticulously track my books there and it’s where I get a ton of my recommendations. I save the book in my “Want To Read” section so that when I’m in a bookstore, I already know what I’m looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% go off track and end up with $150 worth of books without knowing where any time went or even what I’m holding. A bookstore is my drug. You’re welcome, mom and dad.

3 thoughts on “My Reading Journey and Why Book Bullies Are the Worst.

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