If you read other posts of mine from last year, you might have had a slight impression that 2023 was not the best year for me.

But, I'd be lying if I said it was filled with nothing but pain. One thing I'm very grateful for is that I fell in love with books again. I was a voracious reader until middle school-ish, I think. I probably read a bit more than an "average" undergraduate student, but at the time, I was looking for more hands-on experiences. For example, I was trying to stay afloat while studying computer science as a business school student. Funnily enough, I joined a well-known book club, but made all sorts of excuses to not show up. (Joining it required an interview process -- I shouldn't have applied so that someone else could've used the opportunity better than me.) Just like that, I drifted away from the book nerd I once was.

Even after entering the PhD program, there were two modes: 1) frantically reading when I had to (e.g., finishing course assignments) and 2) reading deeply when I was mesmerized by or curious about someone's research. I didn't read much outside of these two contexts -- it was rare for me to pick up and finish reading a book irrelevant to my research. And, even for 2), I hadn't returned to the old me. I remember a faculty member giving me an amused look when I blurted out that I didn't really enjoy reading. My inner, visceral reaction to their facial expression -- please tell me it isn't a crime for an academic to not indulge in reading!

Of course, I'm not 100% sure if I read less books compared to other academics, but that was the impression I got. At the same time, I think I always felt guilty that I lost the old book lover inside me (maybe it would be more correct to say that I missed her). But, finally in 2023, I found myself wanting to read books. I realized I found solace in them. In particular, three books enabled me to have epiphanies when I was feeling overwhelming confusion and/or pain.

Why the sudden change? The reasons are obvious in hindsight. But, explaining them while not losing the nuances requires a longer post. For now, I'm writing this to encourage myself to keep reading in 2024 -- especially for my inner peace and intrinsic growth.

01/03/2024 (revised on 01/04/2024, 01/12/2024, and 02/24/2024)

This site is made by Jane Im, code here.