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Date night with a book: My reading routine

Words by Joshua Chang

Visuals by Sammy Kogan & Brithi Sehra

It’s 5 p.m. I burst through the front door, shake the loose rain off my windbreaker and wriggle out of my backpack straps. My bag falls to the ground with a slightly concerning thud, but I leave it lying in the foyer as I stumble into the warmth of my home.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…not in a scary thunder way but in an unnecessarily cold-without-the-pretty-snow way. I take out my earbuds, which have been booming Out Of The Woods (Taylor’s Version) since I ran out from underneath the subway station shelter—right before I slid on a patch of ice directly into a tree. Although I’m home, I don’t dare take off my flannel underneath just yet…I need the warmth to soak in.

I frown as I peer out the window, rain peppering the glass and sliding down to the brick windowsill where a mound of ice has begun to form. In my humble opinion, ice anywhere during November indicates a major problem, especially when there was a projected “clear forecast” about two hours ago. Nevertheless, I found myself running—or might I say skating—all the way home from the subway over black ice and slush puddles, attempting to escape the miserable weather.

I pull out my phone, which has already started firing off with notifications as it connects to my home Wi-Fi. Clearly, I’m too popular to be left alone for even a moment.

One email from my professor reads:  “Josh, when are you handing in your final feature draft? It was due last week.”

Another alert warns: “Based on your headphone usage over the last seven days, the volume has been turned down to protect your hearing.”

“We miss you! Come back and play!” says a Subway Surfers push notification.

I sigh and set my phone face down on the kitchen table, knowing it’ll be a while before I resolve any of those “pressing” updates. I finally decide to shuck off my itchy flannel and replace it with a cozy pullover. It’s reading time.

After filling up and turning on my kettle, I open the pantry to see if there are any munchies I can snack on without staining or soiling the pages while I read. As a broke university student, my options are some dried apricots, a single granola bar and a half-full bag of dairy-free croutons. I gather them all up in my arms and head over to my room to find a book.

“The pages have the crispest paper smell”

There’s a list of several I can choose from today, seeing as I’ve started about five but have yet to finish any of them. One of the worst things about November is that schoolwork and exam season get in the way of all my hobbies, such as reading or spending hours panicking about finding an internship for next semester.

I open my closet and get a good look at the colourful array of book titles on the shelf before me. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green seems like a good option. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is timely too, seeing as the movie has just come out. After some deliberation, I eventually settle on Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens because it has the prettiest cover and the pages have the crispest paper smell.

I have dozens of other great reads on my Kindle, but I desperately need to flip the physical pages of a book while sitting cross-legged under my grandmother’s hand-woven blanket and thus, living my main character moment. 

After typing up articles on my computer all morning and staring mindlessly at a professor’s three-hour presentation all afternoon, I think my eyes might melt out of their sockets if I stare at a screen any longer. The fact that I’ve been watching episodes of Bob’s Burgers on repeat every night until 2 a.m. probably doesn’t help either.

“Luckily, it’s warm inside and so am I”

My kettle comes to a boil and I pour the steaming water over a “Just Peachy” tea bag inside of my sister’s Dunder Mifflin mug. There’s no time to waste as I squeeze in some honey—probably more than I should—and hurry over to the living room where I know a fluffy couch awaits me. I normally do most of my reading in my room, but I would never wear my outside clothes in bed. Not with bed bugs on the loose.

I jump onto the couch almost too forcefully—nearly falling over the edge—but I’m settled in after thrashing around for a moment. There’s a mug in my left hand, a crouton in my right and a book in my lap. I gaze out the window again to see that the rain has only gotten worse, slightly rattling the window frame and making me question its structural integrity. Luckily, it’s warm inside and so am I.

I need everything to be perfect. My tea is steaming, a blanket is wrapped around my waist and my book is in front of me. Do I light the Bergamot Waters candle on the coffee table, or is that too much? Nah. It’s a date night after all. With myself. Or is that kind of sad?

But I shake my head. Now is no time to get into my feels. The only emotions I should be feeling right now are for Kya, a young girl braving the marshlands of North Carolina, so that’s where I’ll be focusing all of my attention until further notice.

I smile as I flip open to where my Batman bookmark is neatly tucked inside the book, protecting where I last left off. I’m back for you my dear, four months later. It’s just you and I.

The rotted legs of the old abandoned fire tower …

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