In Defense of Reading

Episode #47

I like the heft of books in my hand. I like the smooth feel of their pages and the artistry of their covers. But most of all, I love the escape that their stories provide.

I’m going to make more time for books this year. The October focus for the 30-Day Challenge is to set teaching goals and personal ones as well. But it is not just about setting them, it is about achieving them. I’m challenging myself to read one book a month and I’m counting on others in the group to hold me accountable. That’s why I’m writing this post. It is the first step in my accountability process. The next step, starting October 1st, is to read Kafka on the Shore. Then, as the day winds down and my son is tucked in bed, I will retire to the couch with Murakiami’s novel and in doing so, escape the frenzied grip of social media.

Studies show that reading sharpens and strengthens brain function and expands one’s vocabulary, but that’s not why I do it. Those are added benefits but not the primary reasons. Nor do I do it to escape the base and superficial scanning that occurs online, although reading is a welcomed reprieve. I do it, above all, because it is pleasurable. When I read I become welded to characters, get crushed by conflict, travel in time and place, and learn to empathize with others. Reading allows me to think, feel, and imagine like nothing else can.

Loving literature isn’t just an English-teacher thing. It is a human-being thing, and the more I read of imaginary people the more I understand the real people I interact with each day.

I understand the courage it takes to parent in moments of crisis because of Atticus Finch. I know the feeling of otherness because of Othello. I experience the memories of 9/11 differently through the lens of Corrigan and Jasmine. I mature artistically along with Stephen Daedalus. And I empathize with Holden’s loneliness.

Although many stories take time and effort to read, they are worth it. The prolonged satisfaction is superior to instant gratification.  I can’t say the same thing after scrolling through a Twitter or Facebook feed night after night. Even television shows and films, which can sometimes tell stories well, fall short of the satisfaction of a book. They are crafted from someone else’s interpretation. Yet I own the experience of a book, and that has made all the difference.

Here are 20 books that are worth the time:


Share your favorite books in the comments section below

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2 thoughts on “In Defense of Reading

  1. Just finished Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Quirky novel. Glad I didn’t let the cover keep me away. Kafka on the Shore is second in my TBR pile. Getting ready to start And the Mountains Echoed. Some recommendations: The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin. Loved it much more than I expected to. The Thirteenth Tale by Setterfield. You’re so right that we need to take time for ourselves. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I really loved Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, and I loved, loved, LOVED Anita Amirrezvani’s The Blood of Flowers. I’d highly recommend making room for them in your agenda. I’m trying to read one or more books per month right now, though since school started I’ve slowed down.

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