The Importance of Reading…
Books and reading were hugely important to me and still are. The written word has always been such a key, central part of my life. I owe so much of how I grew up, what I know and how I think, to reading. Also, for better or worse, books provided an escape for me when I didn’t want to deal with the real-life situation at hand. They opened new worlds, taught me words and ideas and cultures, and provided a potent context for the world as I saw and experienced it. Reading taught me to love words and the world.
Recently, I’ve learned the value of not reading, or at least of balancing reading with observing and listening, and with writing. Though reading is such valuable literary input, without some sort of output a person could get, well, literarily constipated. I’ll be writing about deliberate not-reading in The Life Literary.
Of course, I’ll also be writing about deliberate reading. I’m going to write reviews of or maybe just a few brief remarks about books I’ve read. I’m going to dedicate an entire page of this blog to a list of books I’ve read and another one to articles that I particularly like.
Don’t Fear the Book Tsunami
For some time now, the huge plethora of books and other conveyors of the written word depressed me for a couple of reasons. It was one of the final things I allowed to keep me from writing. I doubted I would have anything valuable to add to all those words, all that verbal clatter, crash, bang, bang. I’ve gotten over that. I also despaired at how little I’ve read in spite of being a reader all my life. There’s so much I haven’t read, so many good authors and stories I don’t even know about, can’t quote, can hardly fake knowing about in conversations with people who have read them. How dare I start this so-called literary blog! I’m over that, too. Honestly, what did I expect of myself? Who can do it all? Who can read it all? So I’m going to celebrate what I have read, what I am reading, and what I hope to read in the future. What books I don’t have time for or knowledge of yet, well, they can just take a number and sit on a shelf somewhere and hope I get to them before I’m carried off to that great library in the sky.
The One Quarter Rule
I try to pick books and authors I’ll enjoy as well as benefit from. I read books that are pure entertainment and others that are outstanding modern and classic literature. A rule I set for myself long ago is the rule of one quarter. I won’t put down a book I may not want to finish until I’ve read one fourth of it. Some books grab you from the first sentence. A book I recently read didn’t really click until page 94 of its 553 pages. I always wanted to give a book a chance to make its case with me.
Like a Living Thing
One more thing: I almost believe a wall of books is practically alive, a living, breathing thing made up of many colorful, thick, pageful parts. It’s one of the few myths, albeit a homemade one, I allow myself.