Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The art of reading

My professors are always telling me that if you want to be a good writer, you must write a lot (duh) and read. A lot. I'm still working on the writing-every-day thing, but I jumped at the excuse to read more than I already do. In less than a year, I've turned my love for reading into something more closely resembling an art, a balancing scale of guidelines and skill.

Guideline #1: Don't stick with one genre. 
You never know what you're missing if you stick with just one genre. In my pre-artful reading days, I read mainly fantasy, YA lit, and Mormon fiction, and I am slowly expanding my reading pool to include nonfiction, literary magazines, the classics, and modern hits. I still love thick fantasies, I'm falling more in love with creative nonfiction every day, and I'm starting to appreciate the classics for more than just their literary value. On the other hand, I still don't really like mysteries, I have not acquired any more patience for modernism, and the YA genre doesn't call to me as much as it once did. I know what I like not because I read a lot of what I like, but because I expose myself to a wide net of books.

Guideline #2: Don't finish books that aren't worth your time.
It took me years to fully grasp this concept, but there are far more books in this world than I could read in 10 lifetimes. I used to commit to finishing every book I started, but I've relaxed on that a bit. It's a shame to waste precious reading time on something worthless when there are millions of other great books awaiting your devoted attention. Because I'm trying to explore books of many varieties, I don't abandon as many as I would like, but at least I can abandon poorly written books now without feeling guilty.

Guideline #3: Always read more than one book at a time.
I used to religiously concentrate on one book before moving on to the next, but I've since learned that mood and environment are prerequisites to whether you will enjoy a book or not. When I'm in a loud restaurant for a lunch escape I want something that doesn't require my full attention and that preferably lies open on its own (this is where I do most of my magazine reading). When it's my bedtime reading hour, I want something that will reward me for living through the day (the classics don't cut it). I keep at least a couple "main" books with me whenever I settle down for some good reading time, and I have piles of unread books next to my nightstand waiting for my mood to change in their favor.

Skill #1: Fast reading.
The faster you read, the more you get to read. This doesn't mean you fly through everything you read without comprehending anything or stopping to ponder, but--ya gotta be a fast reader to read a lot of books.

Skill #2: Strong eye muscles.
Reading for hours at a time can really hurt your eyes, so it's something you have to practice. I've read so much the past couple days (mostly stuff for school) that my eyes are still jerking around my eye sockets for a while after I turn the light out. Some day I hope I can read for four hours straight, should I choose to do so.

1 comment:

  1. This is great. I think I need to work on all three of those guidelines. Yep.