Mission

Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Literary Blog Hop:The When, How, and Why of Reading

The Literary Blog Hop March 9-11
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.

12 comments:

LBC said...

Such a lovely post. I agree that the nothing compares to being absorbed in a book. There is nothing on the internet that does that, and it is teachers like you (or at least it was for me) that develop the love of those words in their students. More of us should do sustained silent reading.

Melissa said...

I have tried reading one book at a time and failed. I always loved teachers that would allow us to read for long periods of time, including my mom who helped with my love of reading due to the fact that she was a school librarian for a number of years.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I read in the morning before going to work. I wake up at 4:15 (approximately, sometimes early but always before 5 o'clock, unless extremely tired). Then because I take public transport, I read on my way to work. I get to work early before work start so again I read before work starts. In the afternoon, at work, I find time to squeeze in some reading. If I don't I let go. On my way to work, I read in the car. At home, after conversations and after everyone has retired to bed, I do an hour or so. The target is to read at least 50 pages a day spread like 20 (morning), 10 (afternoon), 20 (evening) though I've always exceeded this. I use my weekends to wrap up books I'm more than half-way through.

I read a book at a time, not more. Nowadays, especially this year and because of blogging demands, I take notes. This helps most when you don't review a book immediately.

Book reading should be at the top of every society's list of priorities. There is so much one can know by himself but reading broadens ones knowledge; allows one to get access to more information and analyse issues from different perspectives.

Red said...

You sound like a super fun (if a little crazy) English teacher! I hope your students appreciate you!

Christine-Chioma said...

You write so beautifully about it! Thank you! Especially that last paragraph.

I love Middlemarch! I really need to re-read it. I've only read it once but as I read it I knew it was replacing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as my favorite book.

Scriptor Senex said...

"What's at stake is nothing less than the human heart, and after that all of civilization (as we like to call it)." Very well said.

Judith H said...

I would love to have you as my teacher! I think it's great how you teach your class.

Judith of Leeswammes' Blog

bibliophiliac said...

@LBC-thank you! Thank goodness for books....
@Melissa-kudos to the mothers and librarians who foster a love of books and reading....
@Nana-you really have structured your time around reading. I love the fact that you are so dedicated....thanks for your thoughts.

bibliophiliac said...

@Red-more than a little crazy, I'm afraid (I hope in the best sense of the word).
@Christine-Chioma-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of my favorite books growing up...
@Scriptor Senex- So you undestand! I knew that you would...;)
@Judith-Don't worry, I think I have my boring days;)

Bybee said...

Amen.

scribeswindow said...

Lovely passionate answer that resonates. I especially like the way you have described your teaching style.

bibliophiliac said...

@scribeswindow-thank you!