Monday, July 03, 2017

Is Anyone Still Reading?

Greetings here at D & D.  I don't post here nearly as often as at The View From Here (please visit there as well!), but something I came across on twitter got me thinking of doing this post.

 Dark Clouds (@BornredNowblue) retweeted a tweet by Karen Swope (@AndthenIsleep) and it really was something to think about.  It was an infographic:

Those stats are something!  Where do I fall?  Well, I've certainly read books after high school AND after college. I certainly haven't completed each book I've started, though (I STILL have to get back to reading John Adams by David McCullough). Not sure the last time I was in an actual bookstore (and I hope used bookstores count), but I have bought books fairly recently. (To me that one stat is a bit unfair as there are fewer bookstores around these days and lots of people probably order online.) I certainly have been an avid reader since childhood. My parents definitely encouraged reading and both were readers. In their view, acquiring a new book was something special! I don't know for sure if that tradition has helped me understand others' emotions, however.

Now that last one is really a kicker!  One hour a day reading in your field can make you an international expert in 7 years??? I don't know how whoever created this arrived at such a stat, but what it says really does give one something to at least think about.  Sort of reminds me of the 10,000 hour rule from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers (and yes, I have read that to completion and there's a review on this blog!)

Do I read? Well, although I'm probably very lax these days in reading books,  but I am reading.  I read news stories and reports online, and sometimes blog posts.  I probably spend too much time online, but a) I want to know what's going on, and b) blog posts don't write themselves; often I need to search  for just the right reference link to support where the post is going.  I'm sure there are at least some other folks who also do much of their reading in a somewhat similar fashion.  Plugging in to online sources and social media can really chip away at that reading time! I'm sure this is especially true for those who haven't been avid readers before. And even when I break away, I just often do not feel in the mood to take up a book. And rest assured, I have plenty here to choose from!  

I had believed that the last book I completed was White is a State of Mind by Melba Patillo Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine. Nope!  When I put in the related posts below (the ones with the book reviews I'm mentioning in this post) I see it must have been Outliers. Time really does fly for sure.

Well, getting back to Ms. Beals' book, it was an excellent book which I thoroughly enjoyed.  There's a review of that here on this blog as well.  I tend to read more nonfiction volumes.  I do read fiction occasionally, but that poses its own small problem.  If it's fiction I don't want anything less than a happy ending.  I sometimes enjoy a romance novel, but at times such stories can be "cookie cutter."  

The last book I started was Tomlinson Hill by Chris Tomlinson.  This was to be a story of his family and the family of retired NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson (who I'd actually known of during his playing days!).  Saw a story on tv about it and watched the excellent AfterWords on C-Span book tv with Chris and LaDainian's brother. I was really anxious to read it and had high hopes.  Bur so far I've been pretty disappointed.  After  LaDainian's foreword (quite good for a non-pro writer) and the first few chapters, it got bogged down in Civil War stuff (I have ZERO interest in reading about Civil War battles) and Texas history which often centered on efforts at discrimination against African-Americans.  Although I kept wishing some folks who would gloss over such systematic efforts would read what Tomlinson details here, I just found it depressing.  So I've been stalled around midway through Chapter 11.  Maybe it will pick up later; I just haven't been motivated to pick up reading again.

I have plenty of books just waiting for when I feel up to starting a different one.  Not that long ago I acquired maybe 7 more!  So probably the next one I start will be one of those.  I'm thinking either The Material Gene by Kelly E. Happe or At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle L. McGuire.  Both are nonfiction and I've seen both authors on Booktv!

Now as far as getting folks to read books in general. I'm all for that.  The college I taught at (I'm retired now) has an ongoing "One Book, One College" program and they also outreach to try to involve the community.  I believe some cities also have similar programs. Some civic organizations may have some sort of book club!  For example AAUW (American Association of University Women) has an Adelante Book of the Month Club.  They even host online chats with the authors. There are book discussion groups all over, often sponsored by libraries or bookstores.  Those type of things are a great way for folks to get reading. We also need to dispatch with the idea that reading books especially, is somehow elitist.  Learning something or even just getting lost in a story isn't elitist. It's a positive way of engaging your mind!  Hey, there's a Moody Blues song, "Thinking is the Best Way to Travel"!  Think they're on to something? Well, books can certainly help fuel the journey. So I do hope more folks get involved and pick up a book once in a while. Don't you think?

Don't be shy - comments would be so welcome!

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