Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Read, You Will.

I have always been an enthusiastic reader, and as such, I don't get why people don't read. Sure, I understand that people are tired and busy and prefer movies and television and video games to books. I like to think (and hope) that these are just weak excuses and that the real reason people don't read is because they haven't heard about how awesome it can be. No, really. Reading is awesome! It expands your vocabulary and knowledge, and it's much easier than Sudoku. The real beauty is that you can read whatever you want, and the benefits are the same. A raunchy romance novel may not have the same distinction as a hefty classic, but it will still do amazing things for your mind.

I know that my enthusiasm for reading is anomalous, and I don't expect people to be as voracious about it as I am, but I do want people to read, even if it's just a little. I can't say exactly why it means so much to me; maybe I just want to share this thing that has shaped me into an amazing, intelligent, verbose, and totally modest individual. Books changed my life, and I think everyone can benefit from reading. So, to make the idea a little easier to swallow, I'm going propose a few flexible rules for reading.

Rule #1. Read whatever you want.
Read magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, literary masterpieces, Harlequin romances, murder mysteries, science fiction robot love stories, poetry, travel pamphlets, whatever you want, as long as you read something. I believe that there is something for everyone, and if you put in a little effort, you will find something that you will enjoy reading. Keep searching until you find whatever it is that you love, and then read the heck out of it.

Rule #2. No reader's guilt allowed.
I suffered from reader's guilt until my senior year of high school, when I told my English teacher that I hated the book she was forcing us to read at the time. She just shrugged and said, "Well, then, don't read it. Life's too short for crappy books." It was the first time I had ever been given permission to not finish a book. I  used to trudge through a book until the bitter end, bound by a sense of obligation to finish what I started. Now, I'll give a book no more than 100 pages to grab me. If I don't love it by then, I'll put it down and read something else. So if you start a book and at any point you start to hate it, I give you permission to start using it to level your kitchen table.

Rule #3. No time requirements.
Someone once told me that if you read for five minutes a day, you will read about 22 books a year. I'm having trouble substantiating this claim, but I think it's important to remember that you can make a long journey with small steps. Even if you read just a page here and a minute or two there, you will eventually get through whatever it is you're reading, and you will be better for it. This is leisure reading; there are no deadlines, no pop quizzes. Take all the time you want.

Rule #4. Use your library.
Libraries are underutilized, and this makes me sad. Is there anything better than free books? Sure, you don't get to keep them forever (well, you're not supposed to, anyway) but how often do you re-read a book? Most libraries have online catalogs, so you can search for your book and even place it on hold so that it will be waiting for you at the front desk. You can also re-check your books online to avoid late fees. Libraries also have audiobooks, CDs, movies, and even e-books available, all for free. Your library card also gives you access to all their databases, which is something I'll explore in-depth in a later post, but trust me, it's awesome. So use your library and learn to love it.

Rule #5. Talk about it.
If you loved a book, recommend it to all your friends. Write about it on your Facebook page, lend it to reliable people who will return it, put it on your t-shirt. If you hated a book, get out the loud speaker and talk about it even more. There is no better way to find out about great books than by talking about books, and it always makes for great conversation.

So get out there, find a book, and bury your nose in it. Not literally, though. That will make the words blurry and defeat the purpose of this post. If you find a keeper, let us know about it. Happy reading, everyone!

Nose planted firmly in book. 


  1. Wonderful post! I especially appreciate that you mentioned quitting a bad book. I used to be one of those people with readers guilt.

  2. Great post! My husband and I are avid readers and our sons are turning out to be just like us. I am bad about the library thought - I LOVE to own all the books I read!! Now that I have a kindle it makes it even easier!!

  3. Oh, no fair! I soooo want a kindle! Maybe Santa will be good to me this year *fingers crossed*!

  4. I love reading, and used to spend days just cozied up on the couch with a good book in hand. But, as my family grows, my reading has changed from books to the papers from my daughter's school. Now, the only chance I get to read an actual book is when I take a bath - so what if my bath ends up being 45 minutes long!

  5. Mel here-
    I am a HUGE friend of reading in the tub! I even have certain books that I've designated "tub books," and I read them only when I'm soaking. It takes much longer to get through a book that way, but it is so worth it. If a waterproof Kindle is ever developed, I am all over that; then I'd read in the shower, too!