Reading, again

I love to read, and am always thrilled to talk to anyone who unabashedly will tell me what title they’re into at the moment, no matter what age the person.

It fills my heart to know my next-door neighbor’s kid liked the book I gave him for Christmas (Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs, by Katherine Applegate). I like to check out what friends’ book clubs are doing, and see what people were reading on each of the legs of our most recent trip — everything from Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann to White Rage by Carol Anderson, The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert, and Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance.

Some are new, some are not; some have been made into movies and some are non-fiction. This half-dozen is a pretty good cross-section of people’s tastes — eclectic at best. (Curiously, I also noticed more “real books” of the paper variety and fewer electronic devices.)

As a former bookstore owner, I’m instinctively drawn to people who “flaunt reading,” who aren’t shy about talking about books, or recommending something, or mentioning their viewpoint about what I consider an essential part of life.

For example, a local teacher I’m just beginning to know — I loved seeing the signoff on a recent email from her. It quoted Kevin (the freak) in Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick : “Books are like truth serum. If you don’t read, you can’t figure out what’s real.”   

Well, that pretty much sums it up. In my opinion, you MUST read to be able to cope with the rest of the world.

Not to be political, but honestly, that’s probably my biggest beef with President Trump. How can he be the leader of the modern world if he doesn’t read and read widely?

Just came across some stats gathered by the Pew Center for Research. Granted, these aren’t considered current, but I believe they’re still thought-provoking — and probably haven’t changed drastically.

Summarized in Iris Reading‘s blog (my thoughts to each point in italics)

  • “Roughly 72 percent of American adults read a book in 2015, continuing a gradual decline over the last 5 years (from 79 percent in 2011).  Really? Ouch.
  • “However, these stats include people who reported reading “one book…in part”, so it’s unclear how many made it all the way through. Can’t even FINISH one book?
  • “The average number of books each person read over the course of a year was 12…but that number is inflated by the most avid readers. Pretty sure we’d qualify as the latter 🙂
  • “The most frequently reported number was 4 books per year.  One book a quarter; at least that’s better than a single unfinished one annually.
  • “Of course, there’s plenty of variation among demographics.  Certain groups read more, or less, than the country as a whole.” Oh, OK, maybe some light here.

In fact, young people read more than seniors — that surprised me, since I’m in this latter group (as are so many of my book-reading friends). Women read more than men, in general — nothing new there. CEOs read much more than the average person. The higher your education level, and the higher the income bracket you fall into, the more likely you are to read. It may have to do with having the spare cash to purchase books or the easy chance to explore the stacks at a library.

Reading also takes time, and brain power. Admittedly, I read less when stressed, or when I’m pre-occupied scrolling my phone, looking for truly escapist entertainment.

In my heart, I know that reading is an active way to be entertained.  It engages your mind. It can absorb you, fully, and carry you to different worlds in different people’s shoes and put you there at different times of history. Reading is about learning, and expanding what I know, bringing others lives into my own.

Truly, I can’t imagine a life without reading.

And one of the real delights in reading is gathering insights into the universal condition, like this gem of a quote from what I’m currently reading, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. It’s on page 165: “… to love is to enter into the inevitability of one day not being able to protect what is most valuable to you.”

Oh my.

Such a well written bit of wordsmithing gives one cause to pause, and THINK. For me, well, I’m pretty likely to mark such a quote with a bookmark.

What are you reading?

If you don’t read, why not? No judgment intended, I’m just very VERY curious.

Oh, adding these images as they represent, to me anyway, some important selections from our collection. And lastly, since we just finished National Library Week, you can read more about how I feel about libraries here.

Books read in 2018

This year, I’m participating in the “Book Geek Challenge” — to read 50 books in 50 weeks — at the Valley of the Tetons Library. Prize is a fleece hoodie sweatshirt, which will come in handy next winter.  Here’s what’s in my “reading journal” so far; kinda went on a Maggie Hope spree for a while, didn’t I?


Current books

My “in process” books, including the stack that I keep next to the bed. Some of these I’ve just received from a fellow booklover, and haven’t even cracked ’em.



Books from Tyler teammates

Each of my teammates from Tyler Technologies gave me a book at my retirement part earlier this year.  I also consider them current books, even if there’s too many to have on my night table…. So special, touching, and personal. (Thank you again, my friends!


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Filed under My Weekly Reader, The Sunday Open

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