Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sit down, everybody.

You sitting?


I am almost finished with another book.

Steady yourselves.

You okay?


Now stay with me, here.

A while back I wrote a long post consisting of reviews for every book I read this year. At the end of it I asked for suggestions for books I might read in 2006. I wasn't surprised that I didn't get many. The post was too long and of little interest to most people, so I think very few actually read far enough to know that I asked for suggestions. But, Leslie suggested I read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. The book is funny and interesting. And I have about 30 pages left. Thank you, Leslie.

Now, I would like to ask you all, again, for suggestions for nonfiction works that I might read in the coming year. I have two or three that I am already eyeing. I am hoping to get a list of 10 that sound interesting so that I will actually have something specific to look for at the library instead of wandering around aimlessly through the nonfiction section - and finding nothing that seems worth the effort.

Joe, who also left a book recommendation, said "don't you like how you get pushed to keep reading or read more... is this positive reinforcement or are we getting on your back?"

This, my friend, is an interesting question. To answer succinctly, no. I asked for suggestions, so I don't feel like anyone is getting on my back. But the question makes me wonder anew about this whole phenomenon of reading. Please, fair reader, allow me to hash this out.

I don't like reading. I don't like sitting in one place and doing nothing with my hands save holding a book. I don't like the process of moving my eyes across a page and waiting for the words to make a coherent thought inside my brain. Many times when I am reading, I am aware that I am reading: not lost in the story, just keenly aware of the fact that I am sitting still, holding a book, and scanning words on a page. Just thinking about it makes me shudder a little.

I realize that I wouldn't be so aware of the process of reading if I practiced it a little more. But that's how it is.

Several times in my life I'd get this idea in my head that to engage in the good and wholesome act of reading would somehow make me a better person. So, I would pick up some book and I would force myself to read the first three or four chapters. And, somewhere around that point in the book, I would realize that I didn't really care what happened next - that I would rather knit something. So, I would go knit, and never open the book again.

Despite what you might think, these experiences have not left me with any major emotional, mental, or academic deficiencies. (Well, nothing permanent, anyway.) As far as I can tell, the only drawback to my disinterest in reading is that I don't have the greatest vocabulary. I suppose I could compensate for this by picking a few new words out of the dictionary each day... if I wanted to. And, to be perfectly frank, I can spell better and have better grammar than a lot of folks I know who LOVE to read. (Neither of these, it should be noted, are of particular concern to me on this blog.)

So, I am not so sure why everyone thinks that a love for reading is such a desirable quality. To me, reading is just that painful, boring process that I described earlier. Why should anyone love reading more than, say, playing the violin? Or refurbishing a '67 Mustang convertible?

I will submit to you that everyone should know how to read and how to glean important information from text-based media. But, why do we want everyone to LOVE it? If that's the case, then why don't we just decide that everyone should love playing the French horn as well?

So, you may be thinking: Okay, obnoxious, book-hater-girl, if you hate reading so much, why are you asking for book recommendations?

That is a fine, fine question, dear reader (but for pete's sake, is name-calling really necessary?)

Here is my thoughful answer:

Because I like learning. Hence nonfiction. I like learning stuff that is "doable" (like knitting and quilting,) but I also really like considering the kind of stuff that challenges me, or learning things that are just plain cool to know. This non-doable kind of knowledge is, unfortunately for me, gained most often by reading. So, read I will. Or, maybe it would be best to say: read I MIGHT. Because it remains to be seen if my desire to learn something new is strong enough to overcome my lack of desire to read.

Does that make sense?


Now, help me out with my list. Cuz, you know, I can't wait to get reading.



Blogger stilhoping12 said...

Makes sense....except I am the total opposite. If given a day to do anything I would just sit on the couch and read for 24 hours straight. I get absolutely lost in a book and its like I'm not even reading at all but instead watching the story in my mind. I was shocked when my husband told me that not everyone reads like that. In fact, he has the same response to reading as you do.

Anyway, I haven't read the book yet but really want to read, "The Year of Magical Thinking". Its a book written by a woman who lost her husband suddenly and later her daughter and how she went slightly insane during her grieving process. I don't know if that would appeal to you but given everything that has happened with my family lately it sounds interesting.

Thu Dec 29, 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger yomama said...

"we read to know we're not alone"
clive lewis

if you're looking for reading lists, i would use 43 things and search for people who are interested in the same things as you...

i read mostly contemporary non-fiction w/ a good dose of contemp fiction. it doesn't sound up your ally based on your hobbies. i dunno that my reading list would help.

Thu Dec 29, 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

The Bible. Maybe you have already done this, I've never read it cover to cover, though I've read books of the Bible. But I'm going to do the 90 day plan and I just looked over the first days reading (though I'm really not going to start for a day or two.) I've already begun to see patterns I've never seen when I just read a chapter or two. For one thing, I've never noticed the parallels between the creation narrative and God's covenant with Noah. God says in both to be fruitful. Both are given prohibitions concerning what they can and cannot eat. Both involve a blessing, nakedness, shame and a curse. I've yet to really go into the implications of all of this, but it is really interesting.

Mon Jan 02, 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I meant a week or two. I'm not starting for a week or two.

Mon Jan 02, 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Luisa Perkins said...

Have you read Endurance, by Alfred Lansing? We just read it our book group. It's about an expedition to the South Pole. I loved it. Of course, I am biased, because I am entranced by all things polar--either one. But, really, it was astounding and inspiring. I couldn't believe what those people went through, and went through cheerfully. I vowed never to complain about anything again when I finished it (we'll see how long that lasts).

Wed Mar 14, 10:50:00 AM  

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