20 May 2009

How Graduate School Ruined Reading

So I am now officially done with my first year of graduate school. Woo-hoo! The last of the papers is in and I can chill for a day or two. Yes, a day or two. Because soon the real work begins. Not only do I have a backlog of paid work to finish, but I have to polish a paper and gather the rest of my PhD application materials this summer so that in the fall, when I'm taking three classes, teaching two and doing an internship, I don't also have to go through the tedious process of applying to PhD programs.

But the summer here is looking beautiful and the girls and I are looking forward to hanging out outside and swimming and resting and playing as well, they'll be time for everything, right?

I have one brief East coast trip planned near the beginning of July so that I can attend my dear friend Liz's wedding. Part of my wishes I could bring the girls with me, but I'm not, and I have to say, I am pretty excited about having a week to myself.

The thing that I am most excited for this summer is reading. This sounds crazy, I know. You're an English major, don't you read, like, all the time? Well, yes, but not for pleasure. Luckily the last paper I wrote reminded me how much I really do love to read. I was writing about Richard Russo's Empire Falls (which I highly recommend) and as I was skimming through looking for passages that supported my various arguments, I kept getting sucked in. The language was so beautiful, the characters so compelling, the events so interesting... Multiple times I forgot I was writing anything at all and sat for long periods of time rereading scenes that I had forgotten all about, letting myself sink into the novel as if I didn't have a looming deadline.

So yesterday, first thing, I went and bought myself a new novel - something completely unrelated to school or the list of books I've been compiling to read this summer (a list designed to fill in the many gaps in my reading that I've discovered over the course of the past year). Today - right now - I will take my book outside, lie on a blanket in the shade, and read.

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