A couple of weeks ago I treated myself to a long overdue trip to Waterstones. Ironically, as an English Literature student, I rarely buy books. I buy books for my course and read countless random chapters that are recommended by tutors, but I don't think I had bought myself a book for about three years!
The situation of my recent book buying had arisen after indulging in a huge pot of tea for two and a slice of carrot cake in Manchester's lovely Northern Quarter with my boyfriend. Rather than heading straight back to my stuffy flat, I thought I'd have a mooch around the shops. The possibility of picking up a new top or perhaps a pair of sunglasses was my initial intention, but I found myself skipping past Topshop and New Look and heading into the haven that is Waterstones. I must admit, I've spent an awful lot on clothes lately (blinded by the temptation produced by persuasive sales), but I was in a spending mood, and books seemed much more acceptable and justifiable than clothes.
I'm funny when it comes to choosing a new read. I skim the first line and if it doesn't sit right with me, back on the shelf it goes. It's pretty shallow to judge a book just on the first sentence, but when faced with copious amounts of shelves in Waterstones, it's necessary to devise some kind of elimination strategy.
It may sound over the top, but if I had to give one adjective to milling around the sea of fresh smelling (we all know that distinctive new book smell) and colourful books and reading tons of first lines to narrow my haul down to two, it would be joyous. Actually, one adjective doesn't do the simple experience justice. It was therapeutic. The comparison of my usual guilt surrounded clothes buying, along with my often rushed self and stressed mentality (unfortunately, I'm a worrier by nature), to a peaceful glide around a quiet bookshop in a bustling city, was striking.
It's so often said, but we really do live in an internet dominated world, and I definitely read less now that I watch YouTube videos like I used to watch TV, and scroll through Facebook and Twitter like I used to flick through teen novels. I miss the feeling of being excited to go to bed to pick up where I left off in a gripping book, and experiencing a unique mix of sadness and satisfaction when finishing a favourite novel. I suppose the internet does cause me to read in some ways, blogs of course are a source of reading, so it's quite ironic that I'm criticising the internet for distracting me from books when I'm hoping people will read this online post!
Before I began university, a couple of people who had also studied English Literature warned me that their dense compulsory book lists caused them to see reading as a chore rather than a pleasure. Unfortunately, I do understand where they were coming from, but after making the effort to go to the bookshop, leisurely browse and pick my own books rather than say, The Norton Anthology of American Literature, I am reassured that the pleasure can be found again. And I can't call a Waterstones trip an "effort", it was lovely... and no offence to The Norton Anthology of American Literature, it's a perfectly good collection of work and was just the first book on my course that I thought of...
I'm so glad I decided to pop into Waterstones instead of Urban Outfitters or Paperchase and spend my money on a couple of aesthetically pleasing, new smelling, and interesting books - and I'm already onto the second! I'm planning to read lots over the summer and I'm looking forward to getting around to reading novels that I've been eyeing up for ages. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to continue to spend hours watching YouTube videos and idly refreshing Facebook and Twitter, but making time for reading is going to become a priority again. I can't blame my lack of reading on my past A Level subjects or present university course, if I want to read, I will - and this summer, I shall.