In 2020, Professor of History Laura Dull set a goal for herself: Read more for fun.
“It’s easy as a faculty member to count reading student work as ‘my reading,’” Laura explained, “but reading for enjoyment is a different activity. Between our tense electoral politics and the COVID crisis, doomscrolling became a real danger. Reading was a more positive and constructive way to distract myself from the negativity and fear. The more tense the world became, the lighter my reading: cozies (light murder mysteries) and some novels involving baking or beaches.” Laura’s goal became evident as pictures of books with her commentary about them began showing up on her Instagram feed.
“I began posting the covers and numbering them as a mini-reading journal for myself. I was surprised when I received messages from friends that seeing my reading was motivating them to read for fun—or to read more.”
Book #115 closed out the year, but as we ventured into 2021, Laura showed no signs of slowing her reading adventure.
“I decided to continue posting and counting what I’ve read in 2021 because I enjoy seeing reading integrated into the images that document my year. Sometimes I wonder if people see these posts in their feed and roll their eyes at my choices, but ultimately, I post for me, so roll away.”
Many of us (English teachers included!) complain how little time we have for “pleasure reading,” yet Laura seems to have developed a true reading habit in her daily life. “I read before bed, while I eat breakfast, waiting for appointments to begin or to pick up my daughter. My phone tells me how much screen time I spend each day on what type of activities. The amount of time we might spend on email, games, or social media adds up. I am taking some of that time and repurposing it for one of my first loves—reading!”
And “reading” can include on traditional paper, via her Kindle app, and even listening to Audible recordings. “Many of the books I read are from the ‘bargain bin,’ which has introduced me to new authors,” Laura shares, as well as the “unexpected benefit” that “reading for fun has re-engaged my creativity, which I have been able to bring into my classroom as I have reflected more deeply on the power of stories.”