Monday, April 8, 2013

Reading a good book

Two weeks from today, I will hold the first ot two classes for senior citizens on reading good books.  I have done this many times before, starting with a graduate class for teachers about 15 years ago. I hold two classes to try to provide me a chance to present ideas and all of us present a chance to mention books we like.

One of the obstacles I have discovered people face is shame at what they find they enjoy.  Especially for people with limited years left, it seems to me that the best guide is what gives pleasure, not giving first place to reputation of a book or its difficulty.  

I have long found that many adults don't use their library cards.  It seems a shame not to enter libraries and wander around, giving some attention to each section: fiction, poetry, oversized photography collections, history, science, children's books, magazines, newspapers, etc. All types of books can be interesting, even though it may take time to find a book on bee-keeping that really interests you.  I mention bee-keeping because I sat in on a graduate class that aimed to review the lifetime reading and interests of the students.  One was a bee-keeper and none of the others present took much of shine to his title after title about the practice.  However, before he was through explaining what each book was about and why he cared about that aspect of the subject, we all had picked his enthusiasm and a little of his knowledge and interest.  That was long before the recent drop in bee populations and the related fear that our crops would not be pollinated as needed, to leave many of us without products to sell or food to eat.

From school, most of us have gotten the idea that virtue lies in reading a book.  I advocate not reading one and having someone who has read it tell me about it.  With good listening and alert questioning, I can often gain satisfying insight into a book and the author's style and position in a non-fiction subject in 10 minutes.  Many people who are not normally inclined to speak become quite articulate about a book, their experience of reading it and what they have carried away from it.

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