Consider Reading

Book Review, Kids Books

I visit my favorite library at least once weekly — often borrowing up to 8 or more books at a time. Noting this stack of random books, a friend recently asked how I go about choosing a book to read. Mid-answer, I realized I was more or less making the story up as I went along, yet it still sounded canned.

As an INFJ  my reasons for why I do certain things are gemstone nuggets of thought which I hurl into the chasm of my mind, allowing them to lodge wherever they will. Over time, thought-sediment solidfies over the gems and one must dig to find them again. It’s the cave in which I live… But then people wish to know, “So why this book? What made you choose it out of all the hundreds of thousands available…?” This is a legitimate question deserving a well-curated response; yet I’m so tempted to parry, “Why do you want to know? Why is this a thing you would ask?” This would be very rude, so I don’t, but I do end up occasionally offering a canned answer, while notating a need to dust off that particular diamond and give it a closer look. Here is the result of the book-choice diamond dusting:

To read is to learn is to live freely — to hold the world in your hands.
I truly believe that those who read can  and will do more with their lives. They will live more meaningfully, no matter their station in life. Some are overwhelmed by a set of imagined ‘reading rules’ society has imposed upon us. I urge you not to listen to them… reading is whatever you make of it.

Start simple.
Find a book you think you’ll enjoy. Find a comfy spot. Commence reading. No constraints; don’t tell yourself, “I’m going to read for an hour” or “I’ll read this many pages”. Also, don’t fault yourself for preferring to ‘listen’ to books — some people just want to be read to and that’s okay. 

If you’re watching the clock, you haven’t made time to read…
…and you will need to make the time. Reading is like exercise. Imagine a friend was trying to get healthier. You go over to his house and watch him do 5 push ups. Suddenly, he remembers the laundry, so he races to the laundry room to fold clothing in the dryer. He comes back, starts to do another push up and realizes his allotted 30 minutes of exercise time is up and he should get ready for work. A week later, he comes to you moaning that he gained a pound. You would be inclined to explain to your pal that he was too distracted from what he claimed as his mission. We’ve 24 hours, 7 days per week to do all the things… your priorities will shine through inaccurately unless you control them.

No more book-shaming.
As I’ve perused book stores and colleges, I’ve often heard conversations in which readers are told the books they choose to read are stupid or juvenile. Not true! Reading any book expands the mind, vocabulary and imagination. I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve learned things about Japanese culture from some of my favorite manga and anime. 

Honestly enjoy books.
If you like something –even if you’re and adult reading Winnie the Pooh– own it. You don’t have to be obnoxious and rub it in our faces {that would be immature}, but do be honest in sharing and discussing with others {see Discuss below}.

Return unread.
Remember the stack of 8ish books I get from the library each week? I don’t read them all. Sometimes I get a book home and upon looking at it more closely, I find it’s not going to be as interesting or helpful as I thought. I place it on the shelf and read something else instead. If I haven’t come back to it, or find myself dreading it every time I look at it, I return it. I can always check it out again if my circumstances change and I no longer feel it attempting to suck out my soul.

Discuss.
I wish more people held conversations exploring stories outside of book clubs, and such. How much more could we learn if we had a collective conversation on the subject of a single magical tale? You might think fans of different books who are opposed to reading each other’s favorites, would have nothing to talk about. Actually, they do. They may find common ground, or choose to be respectful of one another in listening to what they each liked about their respective books.

In summary…

  • It’s not about aesthetics, though clean, crisp, fresh and striking books are attractive. Particularly those which hold organic papers. The feel is just different. Bonus points if they smell amazing.
  • It’s not the summaries or orginality, though I love a good summary. It lets me know what to expect from the book. I enjoy some predictible plots, but when I’m looking for something fresh and new, the summary can make or break the moment.
  • It’s not the host of parodies which may well be inspired by the book, but I do love humor.
  • It’s not the first few lines, yet I’ll let you in on a secret. Authors have about 3 lines to a paragraph to draw me in and let me know whether the book is right for me at that point in time.

      It’s about the value drawn from reading, the discoveries made and adventures trekked as a result of having read. The point, then, my dears, is not what you read, but the fact that you do so at all.