Why I Read: A Series

At the beginning of this month, I began a rough draft of what most would call “New Years Resolutions.” I honestly don’t like the sound of me “resolving” to lose weight or cook more or whatever, so I’m basically just changing the title of this list to “Stuff to Do in 2013.” There’s quite a few things on said list, but what it also includes is its own separate reading list, which, as of this writing, has 51 books from 10 different genres (I intend to make it 52; one per week).

I’ve been reading ever since I was a little kid, mostly due to the encouragement of my dad and his filling my room with loads and loads of books.  My grandma was a big help here as well, always bringing books home from Book of the Month club where she worked, so my library as a kid was pretty big.  All through high school, while I carried my textbooks from class to class, on top of them was always my “personal reading,” or whatever book I happen to have checked out from the library at that time.  In college, my messenger bag was heavy just as much with textbooks as it was my own reading, and it was always something theological or philosophical (partially because I love the stuff, but with the added bonus of making me look smart).  I even actually read the required reading for classes!  So, ever since I was a wee lad, I’ve had a voracious appetite for books, something that TV was never able to quite satisfy.

It saddens me to see reading in such great decline in our society.  Kids would rather watch TV or get on Facebook than read a book, and the books they do read aren’t of any great merit (with some exceptions).  Teachers are at a loss in this area, happy to see kids reading something, but always wanting to see them read the classics, or at least something of higher intelligence that Twilight or The Hunger Games (which isn’t a bad series, mind you). I had the fortune of good high school teachers that helped bring out the good in classic literature (and the fact that Edgar Allan Poe was so morbid helped), but even then, I would rather have read Harry Potter than East of Eden.

The rise of e-books makes me question how much good they’ll do for literacy, as we watch bookstore giants such as Borders collapse and Barnes and Noble reduce inventory space day after day.  Let’s not even get into the mom and pop bookstores that are closing for lack of ability to compete with online sales of both physical and electronic copies of different texts.  I worry sometimes that we aren’t going the way of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian society in  Fahrenheit 451, though many have poo-pooed those who worry in such a way.  Still, the more electronic we go, the sooner, I think, we’ll see books disappear altogether.

I aim to advocate reading with this blog, through review and discussion, and to foster in people a desire for knowledge, of themselves, of their country, their history, their thinking, everything of which a man or woman can have knowledge.  I want to see people return to libraries and fund them, along with literacy organizations.  I want to see kids actually use their imaginations rather than play xBox.  Reading can bring people alive, and I want to see it do that.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking about the ten different genres on my list and why you should consider reading a book in that group.  Who knows?  You might just find something about yourself you never knew before!

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