If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you’ve probably started to see a pattern. I know I have, from writing it. The same books keep coming up over and over. If you were to take a guess at which books exactly were my favourite, what would you come up with? Say Lord of the Rings, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Pride and Prejudice, and you’d be pretty close.
Now, these keep coming up partly because they made a book impact on me, and I want to know why I classify some books as “good” and some books as “horrible.” But at some point the well is going to start getting a little dry. There’s a chance all you readers out there are going to start predicting, “She’s talking about romance again? I bet the example will be Pride and Prejudice,” or, “Is the topic fantasy? Lord of the Rings, of course!”
The obvious solution for this is for me to read more good books.
And here we come upon the realization that has slowly been dawning on me for the last couple months. I don’t read near as many books as I used to!
Part of the reason for this is because in highschool I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to have a forty-five minute long bus-ride to school, so I taught myself to read on the bus without feeling nauseated. This meant I had time to read all kinds of books that maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise–All Quiet on the Western Front (which I found gory but hugely insightful into the misery of war), Hiroshima (similarly gory, like All Quiet on the Western Front, but about how people felt after the atom bomb dropped on Hiroschima), The Old Man and the Sea (which I didn’t entirely understand) and The Three Musketeers (which I hardly remember, and should re-read sometime). I may not have read these books otherwise, because they don’t exactly fall into my usual genres of romance and fantasy, as you may have noticed. In university, I just don’t have as much time. Of course, I get to read lovely non-fiction books such as Imposing Decency and Revolutionizing the Sciences, which probably educate my brain too. But after reading assigned pages of somewhat dry material, my brain is too tired to read novels for fun.
The other up-side to being in highschool (and there’s not too many of these) is that you’re assigned books to read in English. Now that I’m done all my English classes for my university degree, no one is forcing me to read certain bits of fiction. Highschool is the reason I read The Great Gatsby, most of the Shakespeare I’ve read, The Chrysalids (which I hated) and Lord of the Flies (which I also hated, but I was forced to read it over summer vacation). Sometimes being forced to read stuff means you at least know what pop culture is referencing when they parody it–pig’s head on a stick, anyone?
I hope this is not part of growing up. I remember, as a kid, hearing my mum complain about never having time to read, and I used to wonder how anyone didn’t have time to read. Books had such a magnetic draw for me that I had to make time to read them, or go crazy. Now I understand a bit better about how sometimes, no matter how much you want to do something, you just can’t fit it into your schedule.
For example, I started re-reading The Hobbit, and it’s taking me a month. I think it took me a day the first time I read it. And the last ‘classic’ I started, Cyrano de Bergerac (on the recommendation of some of my lovely visitors here), I haven’t finished yet. But I will. I will make time to read.
Because if I’m reading a good book, I find it improves my writing immensely. It seems to turns on that creative side of my brain. That’s why finding and thinking about good books is so important to me. That, and getting another perspective on how one can view life. I do hope I do not reach a point where I am perpetually too busy to devote myself to challenging stuff.
How about you – do you think you read less than you used to? What books have you been meaning to read, and haven’t got around to?