Thursday, December 17, 2015

Responses to "12 Reasons Why You Should Read at least 12 Books This Year"

If you know me, you know I'm a major advocate for reading. Books have come to mean a lot to me even though I did not grow up a reader. So, I enjoy good articles that advocate for reading and like to push those along to others.

Recently, the article "12 Reasons Why You Should Read at least 12 Books This Year" was circulating on the Internet. It encourages students in school to read beyond classroom requirements. But this article is good for anyone; all of us are busy with our whatevers, though we may not be in school. These reasons apply to everyone.

I've listed those twelve reasons in boldface and added my own two cents worth.  

1. Reading is good for your brain. Who isn't interested in something good for our brains, especially as we age into the fifty and sixth decades? Reading helps me focus and remember the storyline. It offers me new words to look up. And it offers conversation starters with my husband and close friends. 
2. Reading introduces you to new ideas and invites you to solve problems. This is especially true of mystery books, as the author points out. It's also true as you become absorbed with the story and cannot help but try to predict the outcome.
3. Reading makes you a better writer. I don't aspire to even be a writer, but I do marvel at good writers who use their techniques and vocabularies to turn a phrase and more. A recent book I read did this very thing:  Beach Music (Conroy). The metaphors and descriptions were breathtaking.
4. Reading improves your conversational skills. I struggle with oral conversational skill. Often, my mind is still forming a response long after the conversation has ended. I love talking about books but I think I can write deeper and broader about them more than I can talk about them sometimes. 
5. Reading strengthens worldview and convictions. Yes, it does. And when I read about an opposing worldview, I learn small ways in which others think. This is important to me to not just have a conviction, but also try to understand why someone else has a differing one. Many parts of a worldview are absolutes, but that doesn't mean everything is correct. We often are taught some viewpoint is absolute only to find years later that it is not necessarily so. Especially if it's not obviously based on Scripture.
6. Reading improves your self-discipline and consistency.  As I age, I realize my need for self-discipline and focus. I strive to be intentional in my reading.
7. Reading increases your knowledge of history. One reason I like historical fiction is because the story generated by the author using real historical events gives me the scaffolding I need to remember the history. When I taught, I always encouraged students to read good historical fiction. And I still like to read it myself. When I want to learn about new-to-me culture, vastly different from my own, historical fiction is always my introduction.
8. Reading increases cultural knowledge (without an expensive plane flight). Prior to and after any of our travels, I try to read something written by an author of that place. Not only do I expand my knowledge of the culture, I appreciate the similarities and differences more.
9. Reading challenges your imagination. Always and forever! Everyone who reads imagines the visual in his mind. Upon seeing the movies on The Hobbit, I found how vastly different Peter Jackson's imagination was from my own. Same story, different pictures. And usually, I'm fonder of my own images than someone else's.
10. Reading increases your skill in an area of interest. What is your experience with this? Mine has been broad. Just looking at the books on my shelves and remembering the books that I'm moved on to someone else's shelves, I see ones about family and schedules and raising children, basics of homeschooling and all manner of subject areas there, animal husbandry, farming, gardening, teaching, and travel, to name some.
11. Reading inspires you. One of the most inspiring books I've ever read was just last year, My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. It actually has changed books on my shelves for me. I've listened to the audio (and Conroy reads it -- double treat) about four times so far. He talks about growing up reading and how that led to significant books in his life. It is truly an inspiring book.
12. Reading reduces stress. I love to get lost in a book and be sorry when I turn the last page.  Reading is relaxing and such a treat to have unbroken amounts of time to indulge.

The author of the article goes on to list several "Tips to get you started." Suggestions include becoming a member of Goodreads where you can keep tract of your books read and want to read; finding a reading buddy, which is the point of many reading challenges around; and actually planning reading to make it a habit. One of the things that Pat Conroy, mentioned above, has done for years is read 200 pages per day. That goal is completely inaccessible ever for me, but it is his goal and he has become a better reader and writer because of it. One of my goals is to read intentionally, that is, choosing ahead of time particular books to read in a given three month period. I like to include biography, young adult, quality literature, history and/or science, and some fluff-fiction. 
Do you have reading goals? Do you organize your reading pursuits? Feel free to share these in the comments!

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