The Literary Blog Hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase. This week's question is:
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 am surrounded by books at work, and much of what I do revolves around the printed word. I am that crazy English teacher with the long graying hair who will dim the lights, ask the students to imagine they are in the mead hall (which I describe in detail), and then act out the most exciting moments from Beowulf. I am the teacher who sizes kids up and then thrusts that book in that kid's hand. I am an evangelist for the written word, and especially for classic literature, but I have to struggle to find the time to read for pleasure, for myself, for my own spirit. So I carry a book (or my Nook) at all times. I mean I literally never leave the house without a book. I read before bedtime, and early in the morning, and I read when my students are doing silent sustained reading. I don't really have a lunch break, but if I did have one I would read during it. I read during lunch duty, sneakily at faculty meetings, and for hours at a time on the weekends.
My reading style is single-minded. I don't like juggling several books, prefering to become absorbed in a single book at a time. I read with pen and notebook beside me, and take notes in books, and in a notebook. I love to reread, and would rather read one incredible books several times over than chalk up a long list of books that I've read. I like to read several books by one author, and a few authors (Alice Munro, Elizabeth Strout, Edward P. Jones, Toni Morrison) I consider my own personal friends, although I've never met them. I like to follow the trail of thoughts suggested by one book (Black Boy is like an annotated reading list, leading to H.L. Mencken and Gertrude Stein). George Eliot's Middlemarch is my favorite book, and I've read it either three or four times-and I'm open to a fifth time soon. I'm about to go on a Dickens rampage, and after that it will be Steinbeck, and I definitely need to read more Cormac McCarthy.
What's at stake is nothing less than the human heart, and after that all of civilization (as we like to call it). I don't believe the hype that film and web media are the equal of literary texts. Horsefeathers. Television is stupid, the news is not really the news, and we need novelists to tell us the truth. Read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and tell me we can live without that. One day I'd like to write my own book and save the world, or at least some little sliver of it. If not that, then I'd like to at least tell the truth about some little sliver of life and the world as I know it. Until that day I will keep on reading as if it might save my life or the life of someone I love.