Actually, my serious reading comes from the novels I teach to my junior and senior students. My juniors are just finishing The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. It is a brilliant, harrowing insight into the Vietnam War. It is memorable and the themes it embodies I don't think any of us, my students or me, will ever forget. Reading (and in my case re-reading) this book with young people and listening to their wonderful insights into the thematic aspects of this novel make reading and discussing this book even more remarkable to me.
My seniors are reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. This is the penultimate descent into the darkness that exists within everyone. It is a book that challenges the reader and is one of the most difficult literary experiences that one will ever undertake. I can never say that I like the book, but I am glad that I have experienced this book. Teaching this book is often an exhausting lesson for teacher and student, but after reading it, I can honestly say that a person never looks at life in the same way again.
I believe that all reading is important, but I suppose that after the novels that I teach, my choice of English cozy, highland mystery, or gothic romance is a balance to the intricate works that I cover each day in my classes. For me, reading for enjoyment is an escape. I cannot imagine what life would be like without reading. Reading is a challenge at times and an escape at other times. The next book on my leisure list to read is The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb. It should be a great read, and one that I look forward to beginning soon.