Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Reading Reading Reading

Posted by lpearle on 31 January 2013

It’s interesting to see that one of the most popular posts on this blog is The Role of Reading – none of my other posts comes close. I suspect that’s to do with the fact that we do, as a country, value reading. More important, we value the idea of reading.

Here’s what I mean. In the past week alone here are two comments about reading (specifically my reading) that I’ve received:

I try to check out your blog from time to time; 400 books in 2012? I’m in awe. (Of your top selections I only read Gone Girl and The Night Circus. But then again, I only read about 20 books in the whole year!)

I, too am an avid reader, or so I thought with my 132 books last year, but 400 – WOW! Makes me rethink the definition of avid, for sure.

The problem isn’t with them and their reading, it’s with a perceived need to apologize for not reading as much as someone like me (not working full-time with an already high WPM reading rate). I often find myself trying to mitigate their comments with the explanation that in addition to those two facts, I read a lot of YA, murder mysteries, regular fiction and in general not delving into Deep Important Tomes By Weighty Authors. In other words, I don’t read the books that often gathered dust on my school library’s shelves (the so-called Canon) but instead I read less important, more fun reads.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The thing is, neither of us should be apologizing for our reading habits. In the case of the first commenter, there are two lively children and a spouse at home, a demanding job, family and community commitments and other reasons why it was “about 20 books”. How can any of us fault someone who doesn’t live alone (ok, I live with three cats but you take my point) and who doesn’t have those other pressures? Does it help that when I do work full-time, I “only” read 200-300 books/year? Or that I also watch many, many hours of tv every week? Or that I know that more books are read thanks to looking at what the two children are reading (perhaps not fully reading those books, but at least looking at and sharing in their reading)?

The message we need to send our friends, family, students and community is that reading is important. It doesn’t matter if it’s Steinbeck, Shan or Sports Illustrated – print, eink or audio – it’s reading. It’s exploring something outside your every day existence, opening you to something new and different.

THAT you read is far, far more important than HOW or HOW MUCH.

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