On the Process of Reading

As I stated in my previous post on reading one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to “Read More.”  I have made this resolution every year since my first visits to the Hudson Public Library.  At the tender age of 11 I was sure I couldn’t read all the books in the library if I read one every week for the rest of my life.  And that was the children’s room.  

But somewhere around mid-December it came to me that simply “Reading More” wasn’t actually going to satiate my desire for either cultivation or skill.  After all, those blogs and articles aren’t adding up to any raised intelligence on my part, only heightened current cultural awareness.  Nor do I just want to read any book anymore, even ones with pretty covers, the way I did when I was 11.  So, I did two things.  I tried to make a list of books I felt I “should” be reading. And I thought about readers I know who seem to be content with what they read, without trying for gluttony.

On the one hand is Theology/Philosophy student Stephen. One of his defining characteristics is that he doesn’t read in a vacuum of context.  To him, each of the authors is a distinct personality, holds a role in his department of study, has documented debates, and particular ideas.  Stephen’s not just reading a “book,” he’s reading an ideology.  Additional articles and the understanding of geographical and historical events support the books.  He familiarizes himself with the author’s stance, and considers the ideas in the book as important as the words.  For this reason, there are plenty of books he doesn’t finish, but a book skimmed, or partially read, is still a piece fitted into a larger puzzle of unified thought.

For Becca, who enjoys 19th century literature, she’s not picking “the most famous” book in an author’s bibliography, she’s developing a relationship with Charles Dickens and GK Chesterton. She’s understood their early and later works and the developments of each, she knows the recurrent themes.

Too often I find myself saying “I know I read something about that, but I can’t remember what.”  So then there’s Becka, who has made her New Year’s resolve to document the books she reads and review and comment on them.  She’s even set a tumblr account aside for it.

From all these people I’ve picked up a little something to apply to my own slightly childish reading life.  I’m going to identify the topics that I want to know more about (Very broadly: Sociology, Philosophy, Feminism, and Christianity), and then read these books intent on building relationships with the authors and their ideas.  Not only that, but I’ll probably be spending more time on this blog reviewing the more worthwhile this year.

I certainly haven’t decided to exclude other topics that I enjoy (that Young Adult Fiction from my Hudson Public Library days springs to mind), but I’d like those additions not to prevent me from reading de Beauvior’s The Second Sex, and Russell’s The History of Philosophy. Nor do I want to read those books simply to forget them.  I’d like their ideology to become part of my thoughts and to resonate with me for far longer than the satisfaction of just checking them off a list.


Author: Beth M

I love new ideas & information, connecting people, and discovering New England adventures.

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