Reigniting passion through fiction

How rediscovering the joy of reading rescued my mental health

Isabella Tranello, Features Editor

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.” 

This is the opening line of the first installment in Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” called “The Bad Beginning.” This line also marks the beginning of my fascination with books. This series was the first to capture my attention and engross me in its fictional wonders.

A man reading a book at Elliot Bay Bookstore in Capitol Hill. (Gemma Cannon-Green)

My journey with literature has been long and filled with many obstacles that led me astray. Fortunately, unlike in Lemony Snicket’s novels, my story does have a happy ending. 

Currently, my relationship with books is stronger than ever. But, this was not the case until January of 2023. Over the last three years, a positive relationship between myself and reading became almost nonexistent. This is not to say that I have not read a book in three years, but it was never on my terms. 

I did not read to enjoy it or escape to an alternate universe as I had done before. I did it purely for the grade. 

Before becoming a college student and journeying to Seattle Pacific University, I never saw reading as a chore. It was one of my favorite hobbies. But that quickly began to change. The task of reading became exhausting even if it was only to read a brief article. 

Reading did not feel fun anymore. It was merely a requirement. I hated every moment I had to pick up a novel or complete a short reading to the point where I would push it off until the late hours of the night. This attitude wrecked my mental health, especially during the 2022 fall quarter. 

I had so much to read between my three classes, but I was so adamant about my hatred for reading that I forced myself into a bad situation. On most school nights, the earliest I would go to bed was between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. I was tired and stressed beyond belief, but I kept most of my issues to myself. On the outside, I tried to hide how much I was struggling. However, on the inside, I was a ticking time bomb. I was ready to explode. 

Luckily, I made it through fall quarter but only after painfully dragging myself across the finish line. I worried during winter break that this feeling would persist during the upcoming quarter. I knew I had to do something to shift my attitude, but I did not know what. I felt lost and hopeless. 

I never thought I would find my answer in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport during an impulsive trip back home to Longmont, Colorado, in November of 2022. I had forgotten to charge my AirPods before arriving at the airport and did not have the energy to charge them after I got there, so I had to find something else to entertain myself before my flight. 

I was noticeably upset about my dead Airpods, but little did I know, it was the biggest blessing. 

I found my saving grace on the shelves of a tiny airport convenience store in Gate A. I picked up a book for my enjoyment. I grabbed “Ugly Love” by Colleen Hoover off the shelf and decided to give it a shot. I had nothing better to do with the two free hours before my flight. 

The book was not my absolute favorite, but it did make me realize that I could still find joy in reading. I read most of it before arriving in Colorado and finished it that night. 

Reading was not as horrible as I remembered it being only two weeks earlier. Since that morning on Nov. 25, I have read six books. Currently, I am reading “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Mass. 

Although I have a considerably busier schedule than I did in fall quarter, I feel amazing. I do not push my reading assignments away from my thoughts. Instead, I confront them with a smile on my face. I also sleep better than I have in a long time, which I have been trying to correct since I began high school seven years ago. 

Something so simple as indulging in fiction for amusement every Saturday may not be the cure for everyone, but it was for me. I lacked joy in my life, but reading for personal pleasure has brought it back tenfold. 

Now that I have rediscovered my passion for books and the magical benefits of immersing myself in fictional worlds, I do not ever plan on turning back. To do that, I would be doing a disservice to myself. I want my story to continue to have a happy ending, not unfold into misfortune. I owe myself more than that. I owe it to myself to rediscover not only the little things I love but to find myself again.