Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Life as a Reader

I am taking up the challenge of fall blogging a little late, but here goes with the topic of my life as a reader.

My life as a reader is really the core of who I am. I read lots of different material--best sellers, cozy mysteries, favorite authors, inspirational books, books recommended by the magical algorithm at Amazon, books recommended by my friends on Facebook, books that my former book clubs are reading, professional books, blogs about education, the newspaper, magazines, catalogs. I don’t think there is anything I won’t read in a pinch. I can remember when I was growing up my grandparents had the newspaper and TV guide and that was it so I learned that when I visited to take my own books and magazines with me.

I asked another teacher what she was reading once and her answer surprised me--she said ,”I only read stuff for class during the school year. I save my pleasure reading for vacations and the summer.” Another colleague NEVER reads fiction or really any book--she did inform me that she reads 4 or 5 magazines a month. Friend #3 reads biographies almost exclusively and will sometimes venture into other non-fiction but rarely reads fiction. How sad for them all, I remember thinking. I almost always have a fiction novel or non-fiction book going and sometimes I have both. And I also usually have a book on my iPhone that I am listening to so that would make three. I read like this when I am working, when I am relaxing, when I am breathing!

Hmm my favorite author would be hard to pinpoint because I do read such a variety of stuff. But for fun let’s choose Janet Evanovich as my favorite fiction writer--her Stephanie Plum series makes me laugh out loud and I devour the early summer volume every June. I love her descriptions of the places and people in Stephanie’s world and her comedic timing is great. For my favorite non-fiction author, I would have to say Dan Pink. I have read A Whole New Mind several times and have even purchased copies to give to others. I still need to read Drive, but in some silly way, I feel myself saving it for a time I can really devour it and the middle of a semester of 5 classes is NOT it. I dabble in most other genres so I can’t really pick a favorite.

My favorite reading spot is my chair in my living room, I guess. But any comfy chair works for me--I like hanging out at Barnes and Noble or the public library or the Riverwalk. Sometimes I read in my office at my desk and sometimes in one of my “visitor” chairs. I haven’t been doing this lately, but I also like to read before I go to sleep. I have been trying to make this a habit again.

Okay to remember what I was reading when I was in college I am going to have to go look up some college course descriptions and some best seller lists from then. Gimme a minute. So my college reading according to the University of Alabama catalogue included Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Kate Chopin, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Studs Terkel, lots of Shakespeare, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Ben Johnson, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, John Keats, and Percy Shelly. I enjoyed most of those on that list and even taught a few of them when I taught English. But those dreary, dreadful 20th century British authors like Joseph Conrad, W. B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forrester, Doris Lessing, and Seamus Heaney were the bane of my first senior year! (I had the honor/misfortune of having 2 senior years at Alabama.). However, I continued to read for fun during these times, too; my list of books I read for pleasure then included If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon, Wanderlust by Danielle Steel, Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, Patriot Games by Tom Clancy. During this time I think I started reading Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, John Grisham, Michael Crichton. And sometime in there I also become a bit obsessed with serial killer novels--I really chewed through them (hat tip to Hannibal Lector) as if I was planning to commit the perfect murder.

To tie this blog post up in a neat little bow, I will tell you that I am currently reading Readicide by Kelly Gallager (non-fiction, professional), Chapter and Hearse by Lorna Barrett (fiction, cozy mystery), and listening to Jack Higgins’ Flight of Eagles(fiction, World War II) on my iPhone. I guess I am nothing if not an eclectic and adventurous reader.


loonyhiker said...

I think being an eclectic reader is the way to go! It all depends on the mood I'm in and not being tied down to a specific genre or author helps.

Melanie Holtsman said...

I have so enjoyed reading this topic being posted about because I have gotten some great reading recommendations! I'm with you on the "always having a fiction book to read". I have had many colleagues tell me they only do that in the summer and that's just not enough for me! I have never read Janet Evanovich, so I'll be sure to give one of her books a try. And like you, I always have a professional book going...but somehow whiz through the fiction faster! Thanks for joining the challenge!

eduguy101 said...

It's good to see there are others who juggle multiple pieces of reading material at once. Typically unread/follow 20 peso blogs, read 1 or 2 professional journals a novel forfun and a professional book

It is exhilarates me!

Great post