In the sixth grade, in addition to reading whatever book we were studying in English, we were all required to have an “ORB”, standing for “outside reading book.” We had to report back on these books every week and write little reports about them. It was a great way to force reluctant kids to read, and for the kids who loved to read (like me), it was an easy assignment anyway. Now that I’m in college, burning through the books and expected to read over 400 pages every week, it gets very hard to find time for an outside reading book. When I’m already juggling Poe, Emerson, Woolf, Chekhov, Pushkin, and Lao Zi for five different classes, how could I possibly devote time and attention to another book?
Hard as it is, though, I keep at it. I don’t want to become someone who only reads for work; my whole life, reading has been my leisure activity, what I do for pleasure, and I never want to let that go. So I’m moving slowly but surely through a few books. One is a collection of short stories by Eudora Welty; however, I’ve started using that for a paper in a class, so it doesn’t count as outside reading anymore, and I’m also reading David Malouf’s Dream Stuff. I was interested to try some Australian literature, it being a region of English lit I had never touched before, so it’s good to read. The writing is very fluid and graceful, with interesting, touching characters. It’s also interesting to see the occasional Yankee pop up in the story. I’m always fascinated to see other countries’ view of Americans in literature.