How do you find time to read, what’s your reading style, and where do you think reading literature should rank in society’s priorities?
I get asked the first part of this question all the time. “How do you find time to read? How do you read so many books?” I don’t really know the answer to those questions. I don’t know what other people are doing with all the time I spend reading; all I know is that they’re not reading. I suspect the answer probably has something to do with the television, which isn’t on a lot in our house. Here’s what I do know: it’s easier to find time for the things you enjoy and the things we believe are important.
I can tell you that I don’t read in my office on campus, unless it’s for school and I don’t count that as real reading. I do read before bed probably at least an hour every night. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have weekends in which I can spend whole days reading. If you peek inside our house, you’re likely to find the three of us in the living room laid out on the sofa and chairs, all quite content and reading.
I used to be a one and only one book reader. Then my husband introduced me to the multiple book method. I’m more likely to be reading multiple books when the first book I was reading is: 1. not a do or die page turner; 2. upstairs next to my bed where I’m too lazy to get it. In these instances, I will just pull something off the shelf and then have an upstairs and downstairs book.
I take no notes and do not underlining when I read. I just read. This is probably why I don’t consider the reading I do for teaching “real” reading–it involves taking notes and underlining. When I read for pleasure, I just read. Straight through. No skipping to the end. No skimming. I don’t, like my husband, stop and savor particularly beautiful sentences. I feel like that gets in the way of really taking up residence inside the particular world of the book. So there’s some part of my mind that’s mostly turned off when I’m reading, and I’m okay with that. When I finish a particularly interesting book, I mull it over afterwards. And then I often don’t discover what I really think until I sit down to write a review. This is why I write reviews.
I don’t know where reading should rank in society’s priorities. Below things like making sure there’s a livable planet for our grandchildren and keeping people from going hungry? I don’t know who I would be without all the reading I’ve done. In many ways, I am what I’ve read. But I think you can be a good person and just not particularly like reading so much. And that’s okay. It’s more important to me that people have compassion than that they read. I think reading can help you build compassion, but so can other things.