Christmas gift suggestion: reading

Published 2:21 pm Friday, December 6, 2019

When I was in high school, I loved reading a manga (Japanese comics) series called “Fruits Basket.” I eagerly collected each volume of the series, looking forward to seeing what would happen next with every turn of the page. I still have all 23 volumes on my bookshelf, and about once a year I take the time to reread the whole thing.

Fruits Basket follows the story of recently-orphaned high schooler Tohru who moves in with some of the Sohma family, including two of her classmates, after she needs a new place to live. Along the way, she discovers the Sohma family curse and vows to help them break it. It’s a fun fantasy series for teens, but the reason I keep coming back to it is for the words of wisdom contained in its pages. Nestled within the story are lessons about facing tragedy, developing healthy relationships, and learning to love yourself.

“I wish I could have lived my life without taking any wrong turns,” one character muses near the end of the series. “But that’s impossible. We make mistakes. And little by little, one step at a time, we push forward.”

That’s such a relatable sentiment, isn’t it? I find myself thinking about it even when I’m not reading the series. It took a long time for that character to grow enough to understand that life is about perseverance, which is part of why I find the series so endearing.

I’ve always read lots and lots of books, but when I started reading Fruits Basket and other comics, I realized there were plenty of other reading options out there than just a novel. There are short story collections and nonfiction biographies and many more comics out there.

Stories aren’t one-size-fits-all.

I love reading because I love getting lost in a story. I love finding the relatable parts, and I love trying to understand the not-so-relatable ones. There’s a reason why reading is such an integral part of our education growing up, so I don’t think it should end once we’ve turned the tassels on our graduation caps.

So this Christmas, if you’re scratching your head about what to give someone, perhaps you could consider gifting them something to read. Buy a book, get a library card, give a bookstore gift card, gift someone a subscription to an interesting magazine (or maybe even their local newspaper!). These kinds of gifts can work for people of any age.

We luckily have several libraries in our four-county area as well as a bookstore in Murfreesboro that can help with this kind of thing. Check them out!

And if you happen to find yourself with a lot of new things to read in the new year, I recently read a GQ article full of recommendations on how you can read a whole book (or more) every week.

The author of the article, Kevin Nguyen, says the key lies in your mindset. “If you’re only going to open a book on the off chance you have several hours to kill in a comfy chair with a glass of scotch, it’s only ever going to happen when you have several hours to kill in a comfy chair with a glass of scotch.”

If you want to read a lot, make it a part of your every day life. His suggestions include reading when you wake up (instead of before going to bed), using e-readers to read on your phone, not forcing yourself to finish a bad book, reading during commercial breaks on TV, and keeping track of what you read.

With the cold weather finally signaling the approach of winter here, I think we all might be able to find some time to snuggle under a blanket and read something for fun. Maybe it’s something new or maybe it’s an old favorite. But whatever you choose, happy reading!

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.