Oh, the days of middle school! They were filled with a reluctance to switch from glasses to contacts, exchanging my beloved iPod for my first cell phone and a bizarre affinity for YouTube sensation Bethany Mota.
The joy of being 12 years old was the immense amount of free time that only so many musical rehearsals and soccer practices could fill. After my mom picked me up from my designated after-school activity of the day, the nighttime was my own.
Tuesday’s time was practically always allotted for the new episode of “Dance Moms” — even a prepubescent me understood the importance of a weekly tradition. The remaining weekday nights varied. Perhaps I would bake a batch of cookies, take my dogs on a walk or, a personal favorite, fill my time with a good book.
At this point, I would reach for a late 2010s, young adult, middle school classic — “The Selection” series, “The Summer I Turned Pretty” trilogy, and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” collection.
And I do not use the term “middle school classic” lightly. These books were sought after in the school library, waiting lists were composed for those who were lending out their purchased copy and days were counted down to the next addition of the series being released.
But that is what made these books even better. Before we, as a collective grade of young girls, found interest in tuning into “The Bachelor” or discussing the details of Kim Kardashian’s current relationship status, we found connection in debriefing every last detail of the novels we read.
As years passed, and, frankly, a driver’s license came into my possession, I tended to put the books down and packed my afterschool time with a lengthy list of extracurriculars and driving from friend’s house to friend’s house.
Although high school did not see a lot of reading for pleasure, a pandemic-filled freshman year of college rekindled my middle school hobby.
At some point during my first semester, I discovered the Brookline Booksmith, which has quickly become one of my favorite shops to frequent. Knowing finishing a book meant a visit to this little corner of Brookline was enough motivation to put down my phone and start reading again.
And I have not stopped! Reading has truly become an easy way to ground and comfort myself. After a stressful midterm or a day where I miss home a little extra, focusing on a different world with characters who have their own relationships and problems calms whatever emotions I am feeling.
My favorite part of reading continues to be the debrief afterward. On an organized level, my sorority has recently resurrected our monthly book club that I absolutely adore. I just finished this month’s pick, “Daisy Jones & The Six,” and cannot wait to analyze every detail of the plot and, most importantly, how it made us feel.
Next to reading, another one of my favorite things to do is force my recent interests onto my loved ones. And when it comes to books, my recommendations are insistent! Whether it be my brother, my mom or those same friends from middle school, getting the call that they have finished the novel I suggested is so exciting.
There are not many things that a current-day version of me and my middle school self align on, but one thing I can confidently stand behind is how wonderful reading is and how lovely the connections I can create over literature in my personal life are.