No enough people read today. People sometimes stare at me like a zoo exhibit, a brightly colored chimera from the depths of a fetid, dripping rainforest—“Honey, what’s that? It looks like a…no, maybe it’s a…I don’t know.”

“Is that woman reading? A book? In public?”

I don’t expect people to read much—everyone has their hobbies, the things they enjoy so much that their life is a little dimmer without it in it. Reading is mine, and I certainly wouldn’t deny you yours.

But a little advice if you’re on a low word-count diet, where you only nibble at paragraphs, and skim all description into a bland word soup. If you avoid books as if they’re as healthy as a bacon explosion, further dipped in a layer of cheese, battered, fried, and then wrapped in another layer of bacon….

Read something you like.

If you approach a book like something you’ll have to suffer through, wading through the prose like stinking, brackish water likely containing a venomous snake, how could you possibly enjoy it?

If you like, for example, crime shows, read a mystery. There’s something out there for everyone—for pet lovers ones where the animals solve the crimes, for food lovers where a hapless cook or caterer stumbles on a dead body, or for book lovers where the amateur sleuth is a librarian or bookseller. This goes beyond mystery, of course. Any possible hobby or interest, someone out there has likely written it.

Put the book of punishment down. Yes, reading something that’s ‘good for you,’ that has a deep meaning, and is on all the important lists, is one thing to do. But it’s not going to foster enjoyment.

There are plenty of sites online that section off books into categories, collect reviews, and rate them. Go to one. I like Goodreads, which is  a place where friends share book recommendations. You can also keep track of books you’ve read, and ones you want to read. The site’s book recommendations (neatly divided into genre for browsing convenience) are very useful. And by useful, I mean Goodreads is making my ‘so many books, so little time’ problem exponentially worse, but I’m enjoying the vicious cycle.

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About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

2 responses »

  1. kammartinez says:

    Amen. That’s precisely what I tell my students at university: reading’s fun if you read the books about the things you like. I think so many people are raised to view reading as something they HAVE to do in order to pass school, instead of being raised to view it as something fun. I was lucky in that regard: my mom’s an avid reader, and she encouraged my sister and I to read for pleasure instead of reading out of requirement. It’s served us well, I think: school was that much easier to excel at, and we’re not so reliant on electronic entertainment for when blackouts occur in our country :).

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’m sure a lot of teachers know they’re draining the fun out of reading, but I’m less sure how that can be fixed. Certainly I saw plenty of college students who had loved it once and hate it now…
      And I absolutely agree with you – curling around a book by the light of a lantern or some candles is very cozy.

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