With my sister away on vacation, she asked me to fill in for her. Since I have known her, she has had the gift of words. She always had a book in her hand, remembers everything she reads, recalls lines at the drop of a hat. Mention a book or author and she’s either read it and read it, deeply and can somehow relate to it. Reading seems effortless for her. I am jealous. I have to work at my reading, starting and stopping a book because my interest wasn’t hooked. I think of myself as an “Attention Deficit Reader”. So when I was asked to write something for this blog… I decided to write about what I know best. Finding the book that can capture you.
Barbara Z. Goyda
First, I think how you are feeling makes a huge difference in what you choose to read. I often choose books that portray the opposite of what the state of my life is at the moment. If I am sad, I want a happy book. If I am bored, I want an adventure. If I feel I am in a rut, I want a biography. Not everyone will chose this “opposite” course, however. Some will choose a melancholy book because they are feeling sad. Each way is fine- in the end, just knowing yourself matters.
Second, I discovered it is helpful to choose books that have something to do with the actual setting I am in. If I travel, I love to be reading a book that I can connect with readily. In Iceland, I picked up “The Light of the World” and I truly understood the descriptions as I was viewing them on a daily basis. When I travel back to my childhood home in Kansas, I often pick a pioneer adventure like “The Homesman” . However, during my last visit – “Go Set the Watchman” was just being released. I felt like Scout, coming home again. These connections cemented the book in my mind.
What you are doing while you are reading is also very important. When my boys were younger it would be very dangerous to get lost in a novel (when I read, I am oblivious to everything around me). I needed books that were easily put down as priorities dictated. When I did return to the story (usually at night) I needed a book that I could easily pick up and would keep my eyelids open. Beach reading for me also falls in this category. I can’t stand to sit and sweat. I need a book that will allow me to leave, jump in a wave, investigate a tidal pool and then sit down for a read. Just recently, I discovered The Sweet Potato Queen series. The short essays/chapters are perfect for me and my hyperactive self.
Think of the questions and daydreams you have throughout the day. Perfect way to select a book! Daydreaming of escaping from work and going to Tahiti to live on the beach? Look for a copy of the Moon and Sixpence. Living vicariously through the characters is what deep readers do. As an adult we shouldn’t stop asking questions and wondering. Books keep our minds active.
Don’t choose a book because you feel obligated to read it or feel ashamed of what you are reading. Read whatever you want. If you want to read a trashy novel, do it. But take the time to consider “why” you enjoyed it. I love Janet Evanovich’s novels. She has strong, humorous characters and the plot moves. I speedily read and before I know it I’ve finished it. It feels as if I ate a whole bag of Doritos. In short, I can be a “plot junkie”. Exploring the reasons why you like a book can lead to other book choices. It can also help you refine your tastes as well as realize when your preferences are changing. I believe reading “sub par” literature helps you appreciate well-written books. It makes you grateful for vivid descriptions and complex character development. When comparing books and contrasting books, you become a critical deep reader.
So many of my friends and family are avid readers. However, some will say, “I read the book but I don’t remember it”. Reading is a chance to enlarge your perspective, to evolve as a person and grow. Reading a book is more than running your eyes over the words, it’s thinking about what the book has to say and applying that knowledge to your life. Why read something if you won’t remember it? That’s like traveling to every country but refusing to get off the plane. You miss the point of the experience.
How you feel, what you are doing, the state of your life should all be considered when choosing a book that will capture you. How do you know if you are captured? The book wraps itself around you and seeps into your mind. You spout lines from the book to your co-workers. You are compelled to give copies of the book to your friends. You start telling your in-laws how they remind you of the characters. You actually consider traveling to all of the places mention in the book. You want to re-read it again, and again.. and again… yep, I feeling I’ve got to go find my copy of Edna Ferber’s Ferber’s Giant.