By Ahtiya Liles
In the second semester of my freshmen year of college, I decided it would be a great idea to add a Literature minor to my degree. I love reading and I love discussing literature, so it seemed like the most reasonable thing to do. I was already majoring in something I love (Theatre & Performance), so why not do a double whammy and add some literature? It all seemed to make sense.
This was after I had taken Introduction to the Novel in my first semester. In this class, we were reading a novel a week. And I was staying on top of it until maybe two-thirds through the semester. The novels were becoming bigger, the work in my other classes were growing, and I was stressed out trying to keep up with the readings.
This past semester, I took Introduction to African-American Literature. I love reading works by black authors about black people; I thoroughly enjoy it. Plus, I’ve always felt that I was lacking something in my “cultural-ness” because I had yet to read some of these quintessential black books. This class was my perfect way to do this.
It happened all over again. I was fine in the beginning of the semester, but as it progressed, the work began to pile up. I went from reading the novels fully, to skipping around, to just flat out deciding not to read the books at all (this only happened twice with Invisible Man and The Fire Next Time, which I do plan on reading at a later point in life). It was during this semester that I decided that my Lit minor had to go.
Reading was becoming stressful.
That’s where I draw the line. Reading has always been my escape from stress. When I can’t deal with everything that’s going on, I dive into a book. Part way through this semester, and also my first semester of college, I began looking at books and sighing. Did you catch that? LOOKING AT BOOKS WAS CAUSING ME STRESS. THE THOUGHT OF READING SEEMED LIKE A BURDEN AND A CHORE. Even if it were books for school that were causing this, I couldn’t even risk it trickling over into books for passion. I couldn’t have myself thinking of reading as an obligation.
And that’s another thing. I was so caught up in reading these mandatory books that I was too exhausted or drained or would rather be doing something else when it came to personal reading. My personal reading drive plummeted my first semester of college, and I picked it up again over the summer, but then it went down a little this past semester as well.
I get it: life gets busy. But there’s no way books are going to push books out of my life. If there’s going to be an abundance of books in my life, it’s going to be books I enjoy or chose to read, not books I feel stressed about reading. Reading a novel a week for class took the joy out of reading.
I’m not bashing Literature majors or minors. If that’s their thing, that’s their thing. If they can balance all the required literature and still maintain the love of reading, then by all means: be a Lit major/minor. It’s just not for me. I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle the possibility that I would cringe and sigh with annoyance every time I thought about picking up a book. I need books in my life, and this is a proven fact. I wasn’t going to risk them becoming an annoyance. Come Spring 2016, the words ‘Literature Minor’ will no longer be on my unofficial transcript.