Reading: A Hobby a World Away by Stephanie Shouldis

Back in August I was watching an episode of Dexter, and Dr. Vogel stated that, “the best hobbies are the ones that take us furthest from our primary occupation.”  My husband started laughing and said that I needed to find a new hobby because mine is so close to my primary occupation of teaching.  Of course, when I asked him what my hobby was he said it was reading.   While I don’t disagree with the quote, I do have to disagree with my husband.


Reading is a hobby that takes me mentally the furthest away from my career of teaching students.  A few months ago, while reading Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, I was a slave caught between two sides during the American Revolution.  Not long after that, while reading Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle,  I was an 8th grade boy trying to learn who I am as I was trying out for the Broadway production of E.T.: The Musical.  Currently, I am trying to find my boyfriend who was taken by the Snow Queen and I worry that it may be too late to save him  while reading Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce.  Living a life that is not mine is one of the greatest hobbies and adventures I have ever experienced.


It is true that in a physical sense my hobby doesn’t take me too far from my primary occupation.  I talk about reading and share books with students more times than I can count in a single day.  However, in a mental sense my hobby takes me to place that I may never be able to afford, live during or ever be brave enough to encounter. While reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, I know that I have students that sadly enough have had to live through similar abuse situations.  Reading middle grade and young adult fiction not only opens doors for building a reading community within my classroom, but it also brings about a whole new level of empathy.  Students can begin to have conversations with peers about tough topics using books as a springboard for discussions.


Reading is a hobby that can help people to become well balanced and have a sense of empathy and respect for those around them.  Physically, while reading, I am not very far from my primary occupation.  However, mentally I have lived lives and been to worlds I could never imagine.   Reading brings a sense of joy and understanding to my life, and I could not dream of a better hobby for my primary occupation.

Stephanie Shouldis is a book-loving, middle school Intervention Specialist in Dublin, Ohio.  When she is not reading, she can be found loving life alongside her three children and husband.  You can find her online at and Twitter (@StephShouldis).