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Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

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What are YOU reading?

mykI feel like a public service announcement with this month’s blog post. Remember that campaign that started in the late 80s? Well, this is my campaign. And it’s true – the more you know … I’m not sure how that sentence ends, but trust me, it’s positive. So here we go.

Something came to my attention a few weeks ago that I found odd, if not downright disheartening. My yoga teacher has a tradition of having everyone go around the room at the beginning of class to answer a question. It’s a fun way to introduce yourself, break the ice, let others get to know you. The week’s question: What are you reading? Now I think this group is a pretty fair sampling of society, with people of all ages, from all walks of life. And do you know that the vast majority of folks were not reading anything? I think I could count on two hands those of us who gave legitimate answers. The rest offered up things like online newspapers, magazines or textbooks. Let me tell you something – it may be called a book, but Facebook doesn’t count! In this day and age of the Internet, entertainment technology and social networking, people are much more likely to be looking down at their phone than down at a book. You’re excused if your book is on your phone. Contrary to some, I’m not against e-readers or Kindle apps.

I think I’ve had an answer to the reading question ever since a writing teacher first prepared me for it, if not before. “Always have an answer to the question, ‘What are you reading?'”, he said. Or don’t bother to call yourself a writer. I’m paraphrasing this last part, but you get the drift. If you want to be a writer, you have to read. I think that’s probably in every writing book ever written. But don’t get me wrong. I was like anybody else. I partied in college and just “got by.” Then, when I had a clearer idea of who I wanted to become, I read. I read all the books on old course syllabi in my twenties. And I’ve been reading ever since.

r1But even if you don’t aspire to writing, you should be reading. Take it from Canada’s National Reading Campaign. Geez, socially speaking, that country may have one-upped us here in the U.S. (If it weren’t so damn cold, I might’ve even moved there.) But seriously, they say reading improves your physical health, mental health and empathy. I think I learned somewhere that serial killers lack empathy at an early age. So, we’re raising a society full of murderers? Yikes. If that doesn’t scare you into cracking open a book or sharing a bedtime story with your kid, then consider this next graphic:r2

 

Or this one:r

Six minutes! Who doesn’t have six minutes? Make it a priority. If you really don’t have time to spare, consider shutting off the television or computer a little earlier than normal. I know you make time for that, I see you on Facebook. And you don’t even have to be fast! I read and reread the same page of Wild (yes, the movie) before finally giving up on it. I trudged through Wicked for six months and I’m still not sure what happened. But consider this: being in the middle of a book makes you look smart at the least. Some of that knowledge is bound to seep in. And you know, the more you know …

Books Books Books

dreamstimecomp_17856177World Book Day is celebrated in the United States on April 23rd. In honor of the occasion, I’m re-running an earlier post, “All About the Books.” I’ve also decided that since I call myself a writer, I might actually want to read one.

Many of you may recall it was a New Year’s resolution of mine to read a book a season. Now that I’ve missed winter and practically spring, this resolution has occured to me. I started The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe as recommended by a friend. Yes, someone is dying. But it has lots of great titles and plot synopsises that book lovers will be interested in. It’s a bit hypocritical of me since I’m reading the e-book this time, but my bookshelves are quite full and I wholeheartedly agree with this book’s defense of the printed word:

One of the many things I love about bound books is their sheer physicality. Electronic books live out of sight and out of mind. But printed books have body, presence. …they’ll confront you, and you’ll literally stumble… I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me. They may make me feel, but I can’t feel them. They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight. They can get in your head but can’t whack you upside it.” 

Original Post:

12660084418V21FlWant to know my dirty little secret? In college, I didn’t actually read the books. Well, that’s an exaggeration. I didn’t read all the books. I mean, c’mon! I was an English major. How was I supposed to read all those books and write the papers on them? Seriously, it was like a book a week or some crazy thing. I had a social life too, you know. There were football games to attend and keg parties to go to. And to me, those things were just as important as my education. (Hey, I was nineteen!)

I always felt bad about that. Everyone assumes that an English major is well-read. And the first piece of advice you ever hear about writing is that to write well, you need to read a lot of books.

So, I set about making up for lost time. I read a lot throughout my twenties and thirties. I consulted old reading lists. I read Oprah’s picks. I even bought into that Classic Book of the Month club until it proved too costly and I dropped out. I still have two books from then, leather-bound, edges leafed in gold: Moby Dick and Great Expectations. I started Great Expectations for the first time this weekend, spurred on by my own blog. The point is, it’s never too late.

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.  ~Oscar Wilde

Though I strayed in college, I’d been a pretty voracious reader as a child and adolescent. I loved and collected all of the Nancy Drew series. I was shocked to learn they sell those in antique stores now. (Great.) As a child, my grandparents gave me The Boxcar Children about four orphans who run away and set up house in an old boxcar. The children wash and keep milk cold in a nearby stream. They find old dishes to use in a dump. It was one of my favorites — independent even then.

 I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. 

~Anna Quindlen

I realized at a young age, the comfort a book can provide. I remember spending part of a summer at my aunt’s, desperately homesick. The only thing that consoled me was a book from my mom – The Wind in the Willows. This still applied 20 years later in Europe, alone in my tent, snuggled up to a copy of A Woman’s World: Traveler’s Tales. 

Reading – the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.

~William Styron

And what teenage girl of my generation didn’t read Judy Blume’s Forever, Wifey or Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? So, do yourself a favor. Grab a book and settle in. It’s the perfect activity for chilly nights when the days are shorter. Or instill reading in your children. It’s a habit they’ll come back to, even when it seems all they care about is parties and football. I guarantee it.

All About the Books

Want to know my dirty little secret? In college, I didn’t actually read the books. Well, that’s an exaggeration. I didn’t read all the books. I mean, c’mon! I was an English major. How was I supposed to read all those books and write the papers on them? Seriously, it was like a book a week or some crazy thing. I had a social life too, you know. There were football games to attend and keg parties to go to. And to me, those things were just as important as my education. (Hey, I was nineteen!)

I always felt bad about that. Everyone assumes that an English major is well-read. And the first piece of advice you ever hear about writing is that to write well, you need to read a lot of books.

So, I set about making up for lost time. I read a lot throughout my twenties and thirties. I consulted old reading lists. I read Oprah’s picks. I even bought into that Classic Book of the Month club until it proved too costly and I dropped out. I still have two books from then, leather-bound, edges leafed in gold: Moby Dick and Great Expectations. I started Great Expectations for the first time this weekend, spurred on by my own blog. The point is, it’s never too late.

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.  ~Oscar Wilde

Though I strayed in college, I’d been a pretty voracious reader as a child and adolescent. I loved and collected all of the Nancy Drew series. I was shocked to learn they sell those in antique stores now. (Great.) As a child, my grandparents gave me The Boxcar Children about four orphans who run away and set up house in an old boxcar. The children wash and keep milk cold in a nearby stream. They find old dishes to use in a dump. It was one of my favorites — independent even then.

 I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. 

~Anna Quindlen

I realized at a young age, the comfort a book can provide. I remember spending part of a summer at my aunt’s, desperately homesick. The only thing that consoled me was a book from my mom — The Wind in the Willows. This still applied 20 years later in Europe, alone in my tent, snuggled up to a copy of A Woman’s World: Traveler’s Tales. 

Reading – the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.

  ~William Styron

And what teenage girl of my generation didn’t read Judy Blume’s Forever, Wifey or Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.? So, do yourself a favor. Grab a book and settle in. It’s the perfect activity for chilly nights when the days are shorter. Or instill reading in your children. It’s a habit they’ll come back to, even when it seems all they care about is parties and football. I guarantee it.

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