Forget about Netflix, How About Binge Reading?
Most people have heard the term Netflix binge-watching, no doubt, many people turned to streaming and other distracting measures as a means of solace once COVID-19 hit. Some took up baking, others turned to arts and crafts, and still others, or maybe just me, turned to my favorite pastime turned career—reading. Except, with COVID-19, my reading took on a whole new level, I sought refuge in the stacks of books by my bedside and armchair, indulging in binge reading for the last seven months. I am still surrounded by endless piles of books on my desk, in my closet, near my bedside, all these months later, comforting me like good friends.
In this time of panic and distress, I turned to the only places where I knew I could seek solace and reflection—my books. Since March I have read poetry, academic books, novels, antiracism books, biographies, pedagogical texts, previously read books, books that I long thought I would never get to. Each of these books has allowed me the opportunity to celebrate the beauties of humanity, the process of creative writing, explore my consciousness, attempt to better understand history, and problems that plague our world, including racism. Some books were funny, others serious, some difficult to understand, some required multiple readings, others were books I have read previously, but newfound meanings have emerged because of our circumstances.
The result of so much reading has of course led to more writing, a fact not lost on a writing/literature professor who exalts the deep connection between reading and writing. Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracism and Stamped from the Beginning have inspired me to look at my own life and pedagogies to reassess how I can be a better person and educator. In Kendi, I also saw many comparisons to one of my favorite Chicana authors and scholars, Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Reading countless books by multi-ethnic authors, like Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, and Marcelo Castillo’s Children of the Land have encouraged me to consider how I can best convey societal problems like immigration to my students and inspire them to act because of literature. Lastly, the poetry of Veronica Reyes, Chopper! Chopper! Poetry from Bordered Lives, Ada Limón’s sharks in the rivers, and Bright Dead Things have inspired my creative side, calling on me to articulate my own perceptions of this chaotic world, while finding shared connections through the words of others.
Binge reading during this pandemic has kept me grounded, brought a semblance of order to the chaos that my world has become amid racial injustice protests, homeschooling, and working from home. Without these books I fear I may have lost my way, but they have kept me tethered and helped me to validate the goodness that still remains in the world, while also serving as a catalyst for my own writing, academic and creative. So, what can I say except, forget about Netflix, how about binge—reading instead!
My name is Margaret Cantú-Sánchez, I am Instructor of English at St. Mary’s University. My research and teaching focus on Latinx/Chicanx literary and cultural studies, and pedagogy. I am a self-professed bibliophile, creative and academic writer, scholar, wife, mother, and life-long learner. Words inspire me to take action to create a better world for my students and my children. I am at my happiest when surrounded by family, friends, students, and books!