National Not Writing Month: 8 Reading Projects to Undertake in November while your Friends Are Busy Writing by Emma Gasperak

As far as I’m concerned, November is the unsung hero of the winter quarter of the calendar year. It doesn’t carry the same prestige as October and December, which have the almost unfair advantages of Halloween and Christmas, but in addition to Thanksgiving and the hilarity of our partners’ and family members’ No-Shave November beards, November promises late night writing extravaganzas and way too much espresso as writers celebrate National Novel Writing Month. My friends spend the whole year inventing potential story prompts that they usually don’t end up using. It’s an amazing month for them, and I have a great time watching and reading their progress, but as the only non-writer of the group, I end up with a lot of extra time on my hands while my friends are scribbling away. Consequently, November has become my month to undertake massive reading projects. If you’re looking for a project to fill your empty social calendar this month, consider joining me on one of these eight potential journeys.

1.) Book vs. Blockbuster

I think fell in love with the Jurassic Park film franchise when I was nine or ten, but I didn’t pick up the novel that started the dino-mania until two years ago. It broke into my top ten favorite novels before I’d finished the fifth chapter. I’ve since become captivated by the idea of choosing beloved blockbuster films and returning to the novels that inspired their existence. Skip this idea if you’re a book purist. Personally, I’m not a fan of insisting the book was better even if it was. It’s much more intriguing to say the book was different and explore why it was different. What choices did the writers, directors, and producers make that propelled their film to its eventual success? Would it have flopped without those choices? Choose five or ten titles, and fill a blog with your thoughts.

2.) Read the Harry Potter series (again).

Let’s be honest. I always want to read Harry Potter, and I don’t think that will ever change. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to follow my favorite boy wizard through 4200 pages of adventures as often as I’d like. November is our opportunity. Stop pretending that old Gryffindor hoodie isn’t hanging in the back of your closet, and find your way back to Platform 9 ¾.

3.) Read all the books you were supposed to read in your ninth grade English class.

I skipped ninth grade English. I’m not super smart or accomplished. It just worked out that way. But skipping that class meant I also skipped the segment of high school English that focuses on all of those amazing books that frequent summer reading lists. Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, The Bell Jar, The Great Gatsby. Yup, I skipped all of them, and although I was enraged, I never had the time to add them into my reading list. There were too many assignments and too many other amazing books to read. November’s a great opportunity to work through books you may have missed over the years, whether you skipped a class or slept through it.

4.) Work your way through an intricate coloring book.

Adult coloring books have been warmly accepted into the hearts of bookworms over the last few years, but life is busy and sometimes it’s difficult to justify coloring as a worthwhile activity. Stop trying to justify it. Buy the coloring book you’ve been eyeing for weeks, and work your way through every page. Add some wine, and your November suddenly sounds extremely inviting.

5.) Read Ulysses

Admit it. You’ve always wanted to read it even just to prove you could. Choose a book that’s always terrified you, and read it from cover to cover. We believe in you.

6.) Develop your dramatic side.

One of the best parts of being a college student is having access to knowledge that normally wouldn’t influence your life. History students can take sign language classes. Aspiring anthropologists can take dance classes. I miss having the ability to learn something new every semester. I majored in English, but I took advantage of my university’s theater department by taking a few drama classes, one of which was more theoretical than practical. Spending a semester reading and analyzing plays and then travelling with my class to see productions of those plays was such a magical experience for me. I’m determined to read and attend a play this November. Feel free to join me on this adventure if it’s something you think you’d enjoy.

7.) Feed your fanfiction addiction.

Everyone has different opinions about fanfiction. Some people love it. Others hate it. If you fall somewhere between those two groups, consider spending some time with it this month. It’s a great way for you to scribble your way through November if you secretly want to join the writing mania but feel too overwhelmed by endless possibility. Scribble to your heart’s content by creating an adventure for characters that already exist.

8.) Reorganize your bookshelves.

Rationally, this shouldn’t be a month-long project, but bookworms are rarely rational creatures when their ink and paper companions are involved. We’re all attached to our books, but even the best arrangements need refreshed every once in a while.

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