Shanna Doupe, Sylvan Lake Municipal Library Marketing Consultant. Submitted photo

Shanna Doupe, Sylvan Lake Municipal Library Marketing Consultant. Submitted photo

Escape if you want to: the freedom to read

We need a break! Workdays are long, chores at home are never-ending, family is rewarding but also hard work, and the pandemic is wearing everybody down. If there has ever been a time when people should take advantage of reading as an escape, it’s now.

There can be a lot of pressure when you sit down to read, though. It can be hard to find the time and you might feel like you have to choose a book that’s really worth your time. What makes a book worth your time, though?

When I was in high school, my English teacher told me to stop reading novels “just to have fun” and to start reading more challenging books instead. I’m sure that she didn’t mean to imply that challenging books couldn’t also be fun, and I did read some amazing books as a result. The thing is, she introduced a mental guard dog when it came to choosing books, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.

Now, I’m not going to tell anyone to stop reading “quality” literature. There are some truly beautiful books out there that entertain while they also raise important questions and introduce new ideas. I am, however, going to tell you not to be ashamed of escaping life’s demands for a while by reading purely for fun.

That “trashy” romance novel you have hidden away? It’s a perfectly good book, so stop comparing it to garbage and take some time to proudly enjoy it instead. Run yourself a bubble bath and immerse yourself in a love story. Recommend books you like to your friends.

Are you an adult who likes young adult fiction? You are absolutely allowed to read it! We’re all young at heart, right? If you want recommendations for great YA fiction, check out the library’s YA Reads Book Club.

Although the name might suggest otherwise, webcomics aren’t just online. Many popular webcomics have been published as books, and you can sneak in a few panels when you have the time. Some of my favourites are “The Oatmeal,” by Matthew Inman and “Hyperbole and a Half,” by Allie Brosh.

I was recently listening to an audio version of “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” by Stephen King. King mentions a teacher telling him he was wasting his time writing horror. Well, his books have sold over 350-million copies and he’s won many awards. Moral of the story? Go ahead and get your unapologetic fix of horror, mayhem, and gore if you want to!

There are so many more genres and types of books that you can read to escape: graphic novels and comic books, mysteries (full-length novels, or there are some great ones in the library’s Quick Reads section), celebrity biographies, and even cookbooks. The point I’m trying to drive home is this: life is demanding, but your standards for reading don’t have to be. Take a quick break. Have fun. Read whatever you want.

By Shanna Doupe, Sylvan Lake Municipal Library Marketing Consultant