Addicted to Reading

cat-and-books

Being a person with almost no self-discipline, I have many pleasant addictions, but none as satisfying, or perhaps I should say insatiable, as reading. When I finish one good book, I immediately look for the next one and consequently, don’t always remember more than the gist of a book. I can happily read two or thee James Lee Burke novels, what I call TV reading, and forget the previous one as soon as I start the second. Then there are the books that mark you for life. Almost anything written by Barbara Kingsolver is indelibly etched into my memory.

In the last twenty years or so, my taste for historical fiction has evolved into historical non-fiction. No doubt, the recently popular form of narrative non-fiction gently lured me away from the Gone With the Wind of my youth to the stark realities of The Other Slavery – the Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. The trouble with reading books that chronical the past is that one’s view of the present is altered.

Most of the baby boomer generation, have never known anything but peace and prosperity in this country. Even the poor people, though horribly marginalized by comparison to my lower-middle-class life, are generally not poor by the standards of third world countries.  The wars this country has embarked upon in my lifetime have not noticeably impacted my idyllic routine. But, through the lens of  unflinching writers, my vision has been re-focused. My ideology is constantly being reshaped, refined, and questioned.

I was raised in a staunchly conservative, strictly religious family. The foundation of all of my ideas are based on the teachings of the church and my mid-western upbringing. My knee-jerk reactions are still reflective of that. Nobody was more surprised than I to discover that as my taste in reading became more eclectic, my views broadened and my alt-right ideas were turned upside down.

I believe I have an idea for bringing Americans together, to make America great, so to speak. Every voter, every teacher, every politician, and every blogger should read really good books every day. (Yeah, too many everys in that sentence, I know) Reading an article in a magazine or online is okay for reinforcing what you already believe; but reading a real book, written by someone who has no agenda other than to INFORM you of what has happened before you came into being, is enlightening in ways you can not fathom unless you do it.

I’m not suggesting that you suspend critical thinking when you read a book anymore than you should when reading online or watching news on TV. I’m just saying that when an author goes to the trouble to research a topic carefully, annotates his findings diligently, and presents them factually, without pandering to sentimentality, you can learn a great deal about the world. Even if the only thing you learn is how the people who voted for Donald Trump came to that decision, you have learned something valuable. Chances are, if they had read the same books I have, they might have still followed their deeply ingrained biases about gender and the status of this country. But they would have elected him with eyes wide open instead of voting on hope that he would make them safe from the nasty people who look and speak differently than we do.

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10 thoughts on “Addicted to Reading

  1. I did not know you were such a passionate reader,Judy. Yes reading brings a lot of emotions and culture obviously.
    Do you know that for 15 years I’ve been reading blogs of my English-speaking friends I’m starting to get to know the people of the US without ever going there and also from around the world (Phililippines, Singapore, Australia, UK)
      I know also the mountains of Californuia and those who ride them by bike! 🙂
    Your cat loves also the old books 🙂
    Love ❤
    Michel

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    1. That’s what I LOVE about blogging. One gets to know people instead of simply basing views of others based on what they are told. Before I visited Paris, I had heard that Parisians were rude and unfriendly. I didn’t believe it so I tried to learn as much French as I could in the two months I had before the trip. Guess what. I loved the Parisians and they loved me. Every time I tried my pathetic French on them, they laughed. Some tried to hide their amusement to be polite, but they all were kind and helpful. When I queried, “Oo son le toilets?”, they would smile and point, knowing any verbal response would be wasted on me. When I asked for “du café”, the waiter kindly asked “Du?” holding up two fingers. Of course, I meant un.
      And yes, I AM a passionate reader and an eclectic reader. I’m insatiably curious about people and their history. I will never live long enough to satisfy my hunger for information.
      And last, I’m so happy to share my mountains and trails with you. They are a great pleasure to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t it remarkable that reading and writing are not inherited skills, but acquired. There is no such thing as a literacy gene, although by contrast, language and speech are known to be part of our DNA. Reading is an ability we acquire, or don’t acquire, after we start speaking.

    I spend a lot of time surfing anthropology in YouTube among other subjects. It stands to reason there must be some kind of “cultural dissemination” gene, otherwise the Cro-Magnons never would have prevailed against the Neanderthals. I am sure this gene will turn out to be too abstruse to describe, although it will somehow connect to reading.

    (signed) we_deny_everything

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    1. I’m glad you signed with your Xanga handle or I wouldn’t have known who you were. I’m so excited to find you’re posting here. Now, more than ever, we need your erudition, insight, and most of all, irrepressible sense of humor.

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  3. Nice to read about how your reading habits, and with them, your view of the world has, and continues to evolve.

    Interestingly, my shift was similar, but came a little earlier. Reading non-fiction almost exclusively in college, I found it difficult to switch ‘back’ to fiction later, and still read probably two or three non-fiction titles for each non-fiction. Sadly though, I’m finding/making less time each year for book reading. I’ll admit that at least some of the non-fiction I choose does in some ways reinforce what I already believe. That’s rarely the case with fiction, which can then open other unexpected doors, without an “agenda”.

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    1. I confess, much of my “reading” is in the form of audio books. Not quite as satisfying as focusing exclusively on a book, it does allow me to accomplish more mindless tasks like cooking and gardening. Now reading (book) The Sympathizer and (audio) The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich. Both the novel and the non-fiction are informative about a time and place important to this country’s past.

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  4. RYC : You imagine certainly, Judy, I have a feeling of sadness in seeing all of the Wild that was beyond my garden disappear to let place to a collection of houses or buildings more important.
    Love ❤
    Michel

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