I’ve always been a reader. Do you remember Pizza Hut’s Book It! program? I rocked that thing. Some of my favorite books as a little kid belonged to the Value Tales Series. I loved these books. Jackie Robinson, Benjamin Franklin, Helen Keller and all kinds of other famous and inspiring people were featured along with a little personified sidekick.
I was a big fan of those creepy V.C. Andrews books in junior high, but I think by high school, I had become a well-read young person. My repertoire spanned your standard high school English reading list – The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Count of Monte Christo. I used my free reading time to burn through John Grisham and Mary Higgins Clark novels.
Once college hit though, I started reading because I had to, not because I wanted to. I even used Cliffnotes a couple of times because I didn’t have time to read everything I needed to read. (Clearly I went to college before you could use the internet to “read” a book without really reading it.) The two years before moving to Bosnia, Bosnia was pretty much the only thing I read about. I did read for pleasure while I lived there, but the only titles I remember are Richard Wright’s Native Son (which I recall being excellent) and C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces (that was a touch too fantasy for me).
Post-Bosnia, I spent six years working on two graduate degrees. Thus I spent six years doing a lot of reading because I had to, not because I wanted to. Granted, I gleaned a lot from most things I was asked to read, especially in seminary. I even kept most of the books I was assigned, but that might say more about me having some kind of neurotic attachment to books than it says about the quality of the reading material.
For six years I lamented not being able to pick up a book and read it just because I felt like it. Those six years ended two years ago and I still struggle to read for pleasure. I’ll read, but the titles of the books tend to contain the phrases “post-traumatic stress” or “motivational interviewing” or “biblical commentary”. Who’s to say that I can’t read vocationally-oriented material for fun? I did in fact recently read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and the author stresses that you have to keep sharpening the saw. He also stresses that you have to loosen up and do things that renew and refresh you.
What could be more renewing and refreshing than reading for pleasure? Probably a lot of things, but I am proud of myself for having chosen to read not one but two books for pleasure – The Perks of Being a Wallflower and 600 Hours of Edward. I’ll be honest – Perks was the agency read, but no one made me read it. I’ll be honest again – turns out both books main characters suffer from mental illnesses which technically make them vocationally-oriented, but I only knew that going into Edward.
I’m not going to try to offer a review of either book, but I would recommend them both. I’ve now seen the movie for Perks as well and would recommend the book over the movie. Both reminded me of the movie It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which I guess was a book first but anyway. (Also ultimately a vocationally-oriented title for me.) As far as Edward goes, it’s quirky…maybe like Napoleon Dynamite meets Forest Gump. It was a Kindle $1.99 read for July, so that may have swayed my opinion some as well.
What are you reading?