Who: I started a blog about a year ago. I wrote “Lessons” based on the books I read. I carried on for a few months and got some benefit. Initially, I started blogging as a New Year’s Resolution (2011) to slow down and think about the newly completed book. Without some restraint, I tend to instantly devour another book . Consistency was my enemy, but I did slow down, read with a pencil, and make notes. I partially achieved my goal. I learned a lot from the process.
I say partially because I wanted to actually write more about the books. I thought a blog would make me write. As I started trying to write the lessons I realized some books could handle their role but other books raised more questions than they answered. My reading habits tilted toward material I could easily translate into a lesson. I didn’t want to move away from reading for pleasure, though. My reading became more programmed due to the blog’s intent. I stalled out.
My writing habit was on life support and I needed a way to revitalize it. Teachers are scattered throughout my family tree and my dad used to tell me all the time I should teach. I ended up going to law school, but I crave teaching. I got to thinking, maybe I could meld the two together and re-vamp the blog into a how-to guide to reading. I read daily, more than anyone I come across, but I don’t rub shoulders with academics. I can provide an underrepresented perspective, a working stiff perspective, on reading. Here is my excuse to write and teach at the same time. It’s worth a shot.
What: 2012 demands a new plan with a new emphasis. I want to encourage reading, learning, and writing for myself and others through regular blog posts about reading, learning, and eventually some about writing. To kick off the New Year, I spent about three months or so reading several books on reading. I will include a list at the end of this post.
I decided to start reading seriously about two years ago, not for school, not for work, but to expose myself to new ideas. Then I realized I actually liked reading. I want you to want to read as well. This program will shed some light on “reading” through our posts. As many opinions “on reading” exist as readers. You will develop your own opinion. Take a deep breath and we will walk through the process.
Do not read this blog looking for contradictions, instead read this blog and think about it as an intelligent reader. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Did you read the message and give it a fair chance? Do you understand the message? Does the message raise any questions? Ask as many questions as you can, but don’t read this guide looking for some scientific or final logical argument about reading.
Approach reading one day at a time. Every day spend at least 15 minutes for the next year working through the ideas.
I will not tell you what to read or walk you through Western Literature’s canonical works. I don’t prescribe reading. You should, instead, work through this blog as a supplement while also reading for pleasure at your convenience.
You will take no tests.
When: Now for the big announcement (for me anyway): the habit will become a more regular, at least weekly, habit! You will see at least one post here each week.
Why Read: Starting from a basic reading foundation you can develop reading skill beyond a standard American graduate.
You must start with a basic reading foundation. I do not intend to go back and teach you how to read. I will leave basic reading instruction to the educators with the proper credentials. Instead, I will go much deeper and teach you how to make the reading journey without a secondary sources’ aid.
A college degree used to mean reading competence. A college degree used to mean you could read any material for general readers and undertake independent research on almost any subject. What does a college degree mean today? I went to college. My professors exposed me to books I still consider favorites today. Even with those, though, we could only dig so deep.
No college reading program takes you far enough. Upon reaching reading maturity you will not end your search. The challenge will renew each time you carry over concepts and compare different writers’ views on the same subject. Make your goal to continue in this way for life.
How: How will the program work? Keep reading. You can incorporate the messages into your reading. Start reading. What might you like to read? Find a book to try out.
Just check back regularly or sign up to receive the blog and we will work our way forward.
Throughout these messages you will see me repeatedly refer to the following books. These books help me understand the art of reading. I owe these books gratitude:
1. Adler, Mortimer J., and Doren Charles. Van. How to Read a Book: the Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972. Print.
2. Aristotle, and D. W. Lucas. Poetics. Oxford: Clarendon P., 1972. Print.
3. Edmundson, Mark. Why Read? New York: Bloomsbury, 2004. Print.
4. Calvino, Italo. Why Read the Classics? London: Vintage, 2000. Print.
5. Sire, James W. How to Read Slowly: Reading for Comprehension. Wheaton, IL: H. Shaw, 1989. Print.
6. Bloom, Harold. How to Read and Why. New York: Touchstone, 2001. Print.
7. Bakewell, Sarah. How to Live, Or, a Life of Montaigne : in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. New York: Other, 2010. Print.
8. Prose, Francine. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Loves Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. New York, NY: Harperperennial, 2007. Print
9. Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature like a Professor: a Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading between the Lines. New York: Harper, 2003. Print.
10. Zunshine, Lisa. Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2006. Print.
11. Fish, Stanley Eugene. How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One. New York: Harper, 2011. Print.
12. Culler, Jonathan D. Literary Theory. New York: Sterling, 2009. Print.
13. Ulin, David L. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. Seattle, WA: Sasquatch, 2010. Print.
14. Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.
15. Manguel, Alberto. A Reader on Reading. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2010. Print.
16. Conroy, Pat, and Wendell Minor. My Reading Life. New York: Nan A. Telese, 2010. Print.
17. Bacon, Francis. Of Studies … San Francisco, 1928. Print.
18. Seneca, Lucius Annaeus., and Robin Campbell. Letters from a Stoic. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969. Print.
19. Bell, C. Gordon., and Jim Gemmell. Total Recall: How the E-memory Revolution Will Change Everything. New York: Dutton, 2009. Print.
20. Dirda, Michael. Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life. New York: Henry Holt, 2006. Print.
21. We Are All Weird The Myth of Mass and the End of Compliance. Amazonencore, 2011. Kindle.
One final thought for today. You read this far. You want to make yourself into a better reader. Give some thought to you want your reading self to look like. Imagine meeting your reading goal(s).