By: Emma Gampper

Believe it or not, I actually haven’t read a book that wasn’t required by the school for about a year and a half. It’s rather ironic, considering I’ve branded myself as the bookish, well-read girl. My lack of reading becomes even more ironic if you take into account the fact that I work at a book store. But between the amount of homework I receive and the almost formulaic way school shoves book after book down our throats, I’ve found myself having a lack of motivation when it comes to reading in my free time––which is why I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and try to read 100 books in 2020.

Reading 100 books sounds rather daunting, but I’m pretty sure I can pull it off. Just because I haven’t been reading for the past year and a half doesn’t mean that I stopped buying books. My room is starting to look like an episode of hoarders, with books piled up in any free space I can find. I have so many books piled up on my bedside table that my mother is worried that they’re all going to fall and kill me in my sleep—like a much more morbid version of  “Flat Stanley.” I did some counting and found out that I have about 40 unread books scattered around my room. Only 11 of them belong to the aforementioned death-pile that I’ve decided to call “bookzilla.” I’ve also started to gather book recommendations from my coworkers for when I eventually deplete my book reserves. Despite the self-control I try to maintain, I on occasion can’t stop myself from purchasing books at the end of my shift. I try to justify my impulse purchases by telling myself that I’ll read them and that the books won’t just end up in one of my various piles. Yet when I get home, the promise I had made myself seems to vanish from my mind, and the book gets thrown onto one of my many stacks.

My two greatest obstacles in this challenge are going to be money and myself. Although money is less of an issue—I get a discount on books through work and can always just check out books from the library—the greater problem is going to be fighting the ingrained sense of dread I feel when I open a book, resisting the urge to overanalyze every passage and commit every quote to memory. School somehow took something I once loved and mutilated it beyond recognition, before force-feeding it back to me under the guise of education. The books on my bedside table keep piling up, but I can’t bring myself to touch them. I’m too afraid of whatever imaginary monsters may lurk inside, deafening me with their screams of “essay,” and “quote quiz.”

I’ve only read five books so far, and while I was highly motivated for the first week of the year, I’ve already found myself slipping back into the same habits. I keep making excuses for myself and finding ways to get out of reading. I’ll bring books with me to work, with the empty promise of reading them on my break, only for them to sit untouched in my bag. Maybe I’ll eventually be able to break out of my habitual ways. I’m hopeful that I’ll eventually get back on the right track and regain my motivation, but for now, I’m stuck with 11 books looming over me while I sleep, a physical reminder of the promise I made to myself.


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