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Reading for fun: Book crawls and Scholastic Book Fair vibes

When selecting books, Karie Charlton typically picks what she should be reading — usually a book for work. Whether it’s a book crawl or pretending she’s a kid at a Scholastic Book Fair, here are some ways she’s trying to read for fun.

Photo by John Michael Thomson on Unsplash

I can’t remember the last time I read for fun. When it comes to selecting a non-work-related book, I don’t even know where to start. So, I decided to try something new: a book crawl with friends.

We walked around a cute little town along a preplanned route of coffee shops, used bookstores and new bookstores. At the first shop, I got another work-related book, but the more we visited different shops, the more I loosened up, learning to browse and enjoy. Along the way, we talked about books we enjoyed and debated about if old books smelled better than new books. Being with my friends allowed me to explore book buying in new ways. One friend liked to check out the puzzle and game section and another couldn’t pass up a new journal. I don’t usually find myself in the history section, but I was willing to accompany a friend there.

At the last stop, I found a blind date with a book. The employees had books wrapped in brown paper and descriptions handwritten on them. After reading a few of the descriptions, I noticed that none of them sounded like work-related books. So I chose one that just felt right in my hands. It seemed like the kind of spontaneous book purchase I needed to break out of old habits. And it was. This was the first time I laughed out loud while reading in a long time. I found a fun book! While the book’s content was not life-altering, the experience of letting go of “what I should be reading” certainly was. While I wouldn’t recommend this particular book, I do recommend the experience of letting go and having fun. Go to a local bookstore and see if they have a blind date section.

In that same spirit, my husband (who missed out on the book crawl) and I recently went to a bookstore to shop with the mindset of a kid at a scholastic book fair. We decided that we would buy what our younger selves would have wanted to buy if our parents didn’t keep us on a budget or influence our choices. I got a graphic novel because I’m not “too old for a picture book” and he picked up a book that would have been “too scary” for his grown-ups to let him read. It was a blast. We got to learn new things about each other, like how we both miss being read to. And we decided to read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe out loud together, because as C. S. Lewis says in his dedication of that book, “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” And C. S. Lewis is absolutely correct, reading fairy tales as an adult is wonderful.

My advice to anyone trying to break from their usual reading list is to be playful, inquisitive, and open to new experiences. Have fun!