Netflix, Step Aside: September Is for Reading Books

I’m a person who enjoys personal challenges. That means I might decide only to buy from locally owned stores for a year, or I might have a contest with a friend to see who can spend the least money in three months, or I might decide to organize my home by touching everything I own to see if it brings me joy. There’s a certain kind of person who’s into this kind of thing, and I think my family and friends might tell you that’s called “an annoying person.” I see their point, but setting self-imposed restrictions helps me enjoy self care and self improvement, so sometimes I give in to my weakness for uber-discipline anyway.


This time, I’ve decided to try to give up TV (and Netflix and Hulu, obviously … who watches real television) for the month of September. This isn’t because I think there’s anything wrong with TV; I kind of love TV. I have no desire to rid my life of TV in the long run. But lately, I’ve just been binge watching reruns of procedural detective shows — and they’re definitely not a stronghold of creative or innovative storytelling. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with zoning out like this every now and then, but at this point, “now and then” has turned into “every night and weekend,” and I want to do something to snap myself out of it.


Giving up TV can mean going on new adventures and exploring your world and stuff … and I hope it does mean that for me. But I also think it’s going to mean a lot of reading. And that’s okay with me, because the point of my project isn’t to give up escaping into a story; it’s just to be pickier about which stories I’m choosing and more aware of how I’m interacting with them. Since I might be blogging a bit more about books this month, I thought I’d share a list of the reasons I decided to pick up more books in September. And if you want to pick up a book or two this month too, great! You might even be a stronger person than me: a person who’s able to increase their reading without having to set up a silly personal challenge.


10 Reasons I’m Reading Books in September

It’s Fall!

In the South, our version of fall weather is “I can go outside without feeling like my skin’s burning off.” I like being about to go outside without feeling like my skin’s burning off, but it’s just not as poetic as feeling a nip in the air and going home to cuddle up with a book. But even if the weather won’t truly cool down for a month or so, we can go ahead and get started with the books and the cuddling.

JK Rowling Released New Short Stories Yesterday

I haven’t read them yet, but I’m excited to do it soon. The three new Harry Potter books are about $3, but they’re released in ebook form only — if you don’t have an ereader, that’s okay. You can sign up for the Kobo App for free and read them on your phone or computer.

Books Are Not Donald Trump

Okay, there are some books about Donald Trump. But the vast majority of books are not about Donald Trump. And I, for one, could use a break.

Our National Discourse Could Use More Deep Thinking

Aha, I snuck politics in after all! But really, books train us to think more deeply — to focus on topics for a few hours and to really delve into them in a way that doesn’t really happen with a cable news story or with a blog or a BuzzFeed list. Even when we’re reading something unrelated to politics, books can help train our brains to be good at this kind of deep thinking, and that translates into other areas of our lives. Books also help us to experience the mindsets and emotions and concerns of characters who are different from ourselves, and that helps us become more empathetic. (Empathy and deep thinking are two things that seem lacking in our current national climate, and creating even a little bit more of those things seems like a worthy cause to me.)

Binging on a Book Is Better than Binge Watching Netflix

In most cases, I’m more likely to take breaks while reading and less likely to ignore my friends, family and other responsibilities. Of course, that’s in most cases … all bets are off when it comes to a reeeeally good book. Or to Harry Potter.

I Need a New Hero or Heroine to Inspire My Halloween Costume

Yes, I’m the kind of person who starts thinking about a Halloween costume in September. That doesn’t mean I’m going to create some magical costume to blow anyone away — I’m a lot more likely to get lazy and recycle an old idea, so don’t be surprised to see Hermione Granger or Wednesday Addams again — but even if I don’t actually do a great costume, I really like THINKING about making a great costume.

Get Ideas for a New Year’s Resolution

Even I know it’s probably too early to be plotting out your resolution. But I do think fall is a good time to think about how the year is going and to set intentions for what we hope to accomplish in the next few months and, yeah, next year as well. Once the holiday season starts at the end of October, we’re too busy with commitments and parties and gift buying to take stock of what we really want to get done. Books are crazy-good at stimulating new ideas, so they’re a great resource for coming up with new resolutions.

Books Help Escape the Dog Days of Summer

I feel like it’s been hot forever, and the rhythm of summer has gotten pretty repetitive. We’ll get a break from the monotony and the heat soon, but until then, I’m using books to spend a little time in a different universe now and then.

Books Are Portable

I’ve done a lot of complaining about the weather in this blog, but the truth is, Alabama is finally cooling off to the point that being outside is getting (a little bit) pleasant. Books are a lot easier to carry to Railroad Park than my couch and TV are. And paperbacks are incredibly glare-resistant, so you can enjoy them even in the sunshine.

I Have a Lot of Book Deadlines Coming Up

Okay, this probably only applies to me, other book reviewers, and students who have book reports due soon. But I’m working on book reviews for my books column in Southern Living and for BookPage, and I have a big stack of books that I’ve committed to read by the end of the month. If I’m going to read them all, I’m not going to have a lot of time left over for Netflix. (And yes, I know this is a good problem to have.)


I hope to be in touch about which books I’m reading and which ones you might enjoy. Until then, happy reading!


Carrie Rollwagen reviews books for Southern Living and BookPage. She’s also Communications Director at Infomedia and author of The Localist. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter @crollwagen.

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