#10 For love of reading

My last post was about libraries – this one is about books specifically.

Growing up I remember trips to the library when my brother and I would pick out crazy amounts of children’s books, bring them home, and devour them. I read so much as a child that there was no chance I would stop as an adult. While I don’t read as much as I’d like to these days (seriously, if I could find a way to make money on it I’d like to just read and write all day…mostly read), I still read more than most.

I generally prefer literary novels and classics, but I also love hard-boiled detective fiction (Chandler and Hammett, for example) and some sci-fi/fantasy stuff (Gaiman, for one). I pick up some nonfiction as well, although not as much as I probably should. I enjoy reading about cooking and kitchen science/chemistry and have acquired a taste for fashion. Other than books I read blogs of all sorts and a lot of news articles with a fair number of op/eds mixed in.

I’ve taken my love of books for granted off and on for my entire life. I talk to people who don’t know who, say, Anne Boleyn is and I’m flabbergasted. The truth is I take that type of knowledge for granted. Of course I know who Anne Boleyn is – her story and her daughter’s story are probably two of the most-written about in historical fiction. Of course I think you should know who she is regardless because of the role she and her family played in history regarding marriage, religion, and the rulers of England, but I have an advantage because I’ve read so many fictionalized accounts of the historical figures of the era.

In high school people used to ask me how I did so well in my classes, and I’d respond immediately with, “I read the book.” It always seemed like they were looking for some easy answer – like maybe I knew some special way to know everything without ever having to work to learn it. Reading came easily to me probably because I learned to love it early in life.

Reading is important beyond description. It is one of the easiest ways to acquire knowledge, to be right about thing, to teach yourself to think more deeply. The more you read, the more you understand in life, school, work or what have you. I don’t always take my love of reading for granted, but I do far more often than I should.

(I can count, I swear…)


#9 The Library

I am several days behind. I wrote a post in my head for Sunday, but didn’t have a chance to type it out. And by “didn’t have a chance” I mean I didn’t want to sit down at my computer – instead I spent the day relaxing. I stopped at the library on Saturday. It got me thinking about the role libraries and books have played in my life.

Not too long ago there was an op/ed in the paper from a woman claiming the library saved her life (not literally). She had been  a book purchaser all her life – going to book stores and buying what looked interesting and reading it later. When she lost her job and remained unemployed in the recession she realized she no longer had the disposable income to spend on books. That is when she started going to the library.

I read this and thought, “I would have been going to the library that whole time.”

I love the library and the role it has played in my life. I think I assume everybody knows how great public libraries are. Access to hundreds of thousands of books and databases all free to the public? What could be more fantastic?

Libraries open up so many worlds to us – from the classics to spy novels to how-to books, and you never have to consider what your income is when you go to most public libraries. There is no obligation with a library book other than to treat it respectfully. I am a cautious book buyer – when I buy a book it is either at a fantastic price, as a gift for someone else, or it is a book I already love. When I go to the library I am adventurous and willing to pick up and try just about any book. Books I would never purchase come into my hands at the library. I’ve discovered any number of wonderful stories because of the library.

I wish everyone would appreciate and make use of their public libraries. They are a fantastic resource that I hope never disappears.

What I’ve Been Reading March 30

Justin L. Barrett appears to have written an interesting book about children being born with a predisposition to believe in a higher power. The author of the article has chosen to use this as an opportunity to criticize Dawkins for not using the scientific method to determine the root of belief in children. Barrett, on the other hand, sounds like a very reasonable guy (the kind of believer that I wouldn’t be hard-pressed to get along with).

The Wild Hunt posted about the laws in FL, AZ, and Texas that allow students to offer “inspirational” messages at public schools that can consist of prayer. Well, the post is about a little more than that. It’s well-written.

I’m not sure how I ended up with two Daily Beast links in one day, but this one is about the Duggars. I don’t know how anyone can think overpopulation is a lie, for starters. And then there’s the whole issue that I think it’s terribly irresponsible to be open to more pregnancies when women’s bodies didn’t evolve to have so many children (19 plus a 20th failed pregnancy) and you have 19 children to take care of. Obviously the Duggars are free to make these decisions, and that’s fine, but I don’t have to think they’re making the right ones. Especially not when they place themselves in the public sphere.

Fifty Shades of Grey seems to be a hot topic among writers. I read another article about it not too long ago. It’s a little surprising how much people are reading into it all. It doesn’t make me want to read it, though.

Okay, I kind of get it when people are upset that, say, 1 in every 100 grains of organic wild rice is actually a bug. But I don’t understand getting upset about eating a product derived from insects intentionally. Unless you’re hardcore vegan for non-health reasons, then I don’t understand why you’re getting something at Starbucks.*

I liked the Afternoon Inquisition over at Skepchick yesterday.

I still love The Oatmeal. I think this comic is even better than the last one.

*Though it does make sense that it would bother a vegan that there are insect-derived components in the food.

Thirty Day Book Challenge #30: Favorite coffee table book

I don’t really look at many coffee table books or remember what their titles are. How to answer this question?

I think there’s a sort of coffee table book at my cabin about the history of the area. Lake Vermilion is beautiful, and the history is pretty interesting. It’s full of old photographs, too. I guess we can just call that my favorite, but I don’t know the title.

Thirty Day Book Challenge #29: Book you’re currently reading

Douglas Adams’The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I love it. I was reading it the other day, and I was a little surprised at just how often I laughed out loud.

It’s full of satire and outlandish situations. I am really happy I finally got around to reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at the beginning of 2012 and even happier that I’ve continued reading the series.

I am also reading Candide. I started it quite some time ago, but have paused a lot. I haven’t been reading as much as usual in the last month. Too much time for leisurely thought like that afforded by reading a book can be bad if you inevitably think about something really sad.

Thirty Day Book Challenge #28: Last book you read

That is a very good question. I think the last book I finished was Persuasion by Jane Austen.

I used to really love that book. I guess to my 16-year-old mind the thought of being separated from the one you love, pining for them for 8 years, and ending up together again seemed romantic. Now it just seems idiotic and wasteful, but I still love the book, if in a more detached way.

Austen’s characters in Persuasion are wonderful. There is a biting humor behind several of them. It’s a very enjoyable book, even if the love story isn’t as fantastic as some others. It gets better upon rereading.

Thirty Day Book Challenge #27: Favorite fiction book

I feel like these questions get redundant, but maybe that’s because most of my answers for favorites are from a select group of books.

Favorite fiction book. What could I say is my favorite fiction book? By this point any of you that read my blog regularly will realize that I mostly read fiction. This question may as well ask what my favorite book is.

As I stated in my first post, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Golden Compass, Pride and Prejudice, and The Thin Man are all favorites of mine. And all fiction. I guess I’m done with this question.