Wall of books

How the 50 Book Pledge Helped Me to Find the Joy in Reading Again

By Kirsten Isherwood

I’ve always loved books. At the age of 4, I was inexplicably drawn to the light-blue boxed set on the top shelf in our basement that was the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I convinced my mom to read them to me. At first she tried to explain that I wouldn’t like the books because there were no pictures and she was right, I didn’t like them. I loved them!    

I was happily transported back to the late 19th century and listened intently, completely enthralled by Laura’s stories of growing up in the woods in Wisconsin. As the series progressed, I was enamoured by her adventures in the covered wagon with Pa, Ma and Mary, inspired by her experience teaching in a one room schoolhouse and of course, fascinated by her courtship with the dashing Almanzo Wilder. A deep, abiding appreciation for the power of storytelling, literature and reading was cemented in me by the time we finished the series.

I was hooked.

Years later, when I reached university studying to become a teacher, my love of reading made English an obvious choice for a major. I found that reading for pure enjoyment was, unfortunately, difficult during that season of my life though. I loved many of the novels and short stories I read for my classes, but having a book assigned is never the same as picking one to read on your own. The perpetual stress of a full course load & looming deadlines removed the joy I had once felt when reading for fun.

Taking the 50 book pledge

Having graduated and started my career, I began taking the 50 Book Pledge in 2015 and I have completed it each year since. It has consistently been a wonderful experience that has enabled me to reclaim my love of reading for sheer pleasure. When I was working full time, that meant waking up early, making a cup of steaming hot coffee and spending a blissful hour in the pages of a book, before the craziness of a teaching day began.  Now that I have a baby and I’m on maternity leave, it means setting aside nap time – not to wash dishes or do laundry – but to sit down and do something that is good for me; to recentre, to relax and to learn something new. Taking the pledge means making a powerful promise to myself to slow down and purposefully make time for something that fills me with that same joy I felt as a 4 year old. I think we could all use more of that.

Fancy joining in with the 50 book pledge?

I’d love for you to join me! Visit www.50bookpledge.ca for more information or to sign-up.

We asked Kirsten – what’s your favourite reading spot?

“Currently, my favourite reading spot is the rocking chair in my son’s nursery.

I love the soft glow of the lamp, watching over my baby while he naps and the comfort that comes from rocking.

The worries of the outside world are far away and the calm invites me to sit down with a cup of coffee, a book and no distractions. It’s so peaceful”.  

Kirsten Isherwood blogs occasionally at shelooksforadventure.comand posts regularly on instagram @kirstenlanae

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