hobart logo
Non-Reader Spotlight: Rebecca Klaes, Part 1 photo

Becky Klaes and I went to nine glorious years of Catholic school together from Kindergarten to 8th grade, and then public high school for four years. She’s in nursing school now, and raising two small boys, and generally killing it on the productivity front. It sounds, to me, like Becky’s doing tons of reading, but she currently identifies as a non-reader. I remember running into Becky and her family at the library all the time in our little Chicago suburb, so we talked a bit about how life intervenes and the different lenses through which we see our reading activity. 

Jac Jemc: I crowd-sourced on Facebook and you said you currently qualify as a non-reader, unless textbooks and children's books count. I'm assuming this is because between school and having two small children, your free time is non-existent. You're in school to become a nurse, right? Did I make that up?

Rebecca Klaes: Yes, I'm in nursing school. No, you didn't make that up. Nursing school is intense enough and doing it with my boys, I think, officially makes me crazy!

JJ: Why don't textbooks and children's books count? I guess what I'm getting at is: what was your reading life like before that now it seems like it's less than before? 

RK: The question of "Do you consider yourself a non-reader?" coming from an author makes one assume you speak of reading for enjoyment. I read street signs when I drive; I read food labels when I shop; I read bills when they come in the mail. However, I just take that as I'm literate. I used to read books in any spare time I had. Now, I'm lucky to find the time to sleep! (Tuesday night, I only got about an hour of sleep.) Just a side note, I do enjoy reading books to my boys, but sometimes I would like to read a book with a more developed story. "On the road here come the trucks. They come through tunnels. They go over the bridge," just doesn't cut it for me!

JJ: Do you feel like you do something else that fills that time? Watch TV or look at the internet? If you read the internet, why does or doesn’t that count in the realm of being a “reader?” 

RK: I "watch" TV while doing homework, folding laundry, etc. I do read the internet, but it is usually reading links people post on Facebook. Which I scroll though in the bathroom, in the car, etc. I feel like I'm making excuses, but that's how my life has been lately. Thankfully, I finally have a summer off and only one more semester of nursing school left!

JJ: When was the last time you feel you might have qualified as a "reader"? Can you remember what you read/enjoyed last? 

RK: The last time I feel like I qualified as a reader was about 2 1/2 years ago before I made the decision to return to school. I was in the middle of reading James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series.

JJ: Were you a bigger reader when you were a kid? 

RK: I was definitely a bigger reader as a kid. I would go to the library all the time with my siblings and check out multiple books at a time. I always enjoyed the reading programs there too. I am trying to pass on the love of reading by taking my boys to the library, usually on a weekly basis, and I sign them up for the summer reading programs!

JJ: Ooo, I loved those summer reading programs. I think I’d cheat sometimes by reading books that were a little below my reading level so I could really tally up my count for the summer. Are there books that you’ve heard about recently that you’re interested in reading?  What are they? Why? 

RK: Again, school takes up 99% of my time. (I'm suppose to be working on a Human Trafficking project right now!) So, most of my book recommendations come from my professors during class discussions. I always write the information down in my notes, hoping to someday have the time to read them. Being a Christian university, North Park requires its students to take two bible classes. My professor, during summer school, recommended The Red Tent. I did check it out from the library, but I went into labor before I was able to finish it. Newborns are not conducive to free time.

JJ: What do you miss about reading? 

RK: I miss transporting myself out of reality and "living" within the book. If it's a book I enjoy, I rarely put it down until I finish it! I miss just being able to curl up on the couch and have some time to myself. I guess that's probably part of the reason why I haven't "read" lately...that it's just for me and I'm not doing something for my kids, for my husband, or for school.

JJ: Thanks so much, Becky! This secondary part that is totally optional: Any interest in reading a book with me that falls outside of your standard categories and talking about what you do or don’t like about it?  I know that’s a big time commitment, so no pressure. I’m also open to you picking a book and I’ll read it with you.

RK: I am definitely interested in reading new books and discussing them! I leave for Zambia on May 10th and return on the 30th. So, if you pick a book before then, I'll have plenty of time to read on the plane. I just won't be able to discuss it right away. :-)

JJ: Whoa! Thanks! This is awesome! Zambia! Since you have such a small amount of time to do free-time reading, why don't you pick the book? Let me know what you think you might knock out on the plane and I'll try to get a copy. You're awesome and I'm amazed at all you juggle!

RK: Okay... I ordered 2 books. The Man who Broke into Auschwitz by Dennis Avey and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. I heard about the first one years ago, but unfortunately never got around to it. The second one, probably based off of all of my nursing school purchases, was recommended. It sounded interesting...like a mix of my gerontology, ethics, and health policy & politics classes.

JJ: I'd love to do the Atul Gawande! No worries if you don't get to it though! I'd been wanting to read it, too! Safe travels!!

To find out how our reading assignment went, stay tuned for "Non-Reader Spotlight: Rebecca Klaes, Part 2."