READING

Why I'm one of the great unread - Carol Sarler
AS ADMISSIONS GO, it’s up there with letting slip that you bathe but once a year — or so it seems to judge by the reaction I get when I say that I don’t read books. Zip. Zilch. Zero. No Dickens, Austen, Joyce, James, Eliot, Defoe; no non-fiction and certainly no biography. Not one, ever.

Yay for ignorance! This idiotic article is by a woman basically crowing that she doesn't read. Her "argument" is that books people recommend are too hard so she doesn't bother. The problem isn't that books are hard, it's that people think just because a book by Henry James is the same as a book written by Steven King just because they're both written in English. That's like saying climbing the hill behind your house is the same as free-climbing El Capitan because they're both rocks. People think reading is just something you can do with no preperation. Reading a hard book is hard. You need to practice and work your way up to the hard ones, just like with any hobby or skill. Jumping in to Ulysses without working up to is like expecting to understand French just because you have ears.

Saying you were turned off of reading because your teachers made you read hard books in school is just an excuse. You're an adult, you can read whatever you want. Start with "bad thrillers on hot beaches" as she says she does read, and make the commitment to move up from there. Maybe someday you'll get to the scary books you were forced to read before and you'll like them. If you don't care, you'll never get better at anything. You can't free-climb El Capitan on your first go but if you want to, you'll get there. Of course if you force your kid to plow through Jane Eyre as a high school freshman, they probably won't like it (I didn't). But if you force your kid to spend all their free time on the piano, they won't like that either. It's not about forcing, it's about introducing. Kids should be made to know that there is a wonderful world of hard but rewarding books out there that they can work up to.

I read a quote but an author whose name I can't remember where he said when he first read a hard book "he bored the book." But when he had grown up and lived life a little more he had something to bring to the table in his relationship with that book and he enjoyed it. That's a very writerly way of putting it but it's true. You need to bring something to the table to appreciate a hard book. Getting kids going down that path early is the best thing you can do for them. Just saying that "it’s not what they read that counts, it’s that they read" is gibberish if all they ever do is read fashion magazines and never work up from there. Nobody says it's okay for someone to play Happy Birthday on the piano over and over again because "it's good that they're playing" you can't just let kids read at the same level forever. But you can't beat it into them either because then you end up with this lady, crowing about her ignorance.

Tags: , ,