Friday, June 09, 2006

Bibliophilic Habits

Though addressed to collegians, all of us can profit from heeding Byron Borger's counsel regarding learning to love good books. If you're not in college, just replace the campus-related distractions he mentions with those that apply in your context:
Still, it may seem nearly counter-cultural on some campuses to affirm that printed words still matter—deeply matter—and to stand by them in this media-drenched age. Even as we affirm the good gift of electronic culture and image-based technologies, to be faithful to God's call to develop your Christian mind by learning to "think Christianly," at some point you will have to put down the Xbox. Trust me: the late-night run for pizza will unravel to suck up your best quiet hours. The quality conversation about Syriana may feel like it is so very important but may have to wait. To read deeply, to read carefully, to enter into the rigors and joys and benefits of serious reading will mean setting priorities, making choices, and being disciplined. It will take curmudgeonly courage at times to see reading as a spiritual discipline and to go at it consistently and with firm intention. As in upholding our commitments to regular Bible study or prayer times, the 'busy-ness' of college life will demand that we regularly remember who we are, what our focal practices are, and why we do what we do. We will have to remember that we are people of the Book.
Borger concludes his essay with the following habits of the passionate book lover:
1. Make a schedule. Don't postpone your reading to the end of the day when you are most tired. Serious reading takes some serious commitments. Use the library or another favorite, quiet spot;

2. Carry a book with you almost all the time. You can dip in during 'down time' or during unexpected free time. You needn't be anti-social or a show-off about your bookwormish habits. Still, you'd be surprised how much reading you can do on the run;

3. Talk to people you trust about what they most enjoy and what they are reading. Talk about books with people you admire. Find a book-buying mentor and a bookseller who cares about you and your literacy and intellectual development. Read book reviews from a variety of sources;

4. Read in an interdisciplinary way. Wisely chosen novels can obviously enhance your non-fiction course work in pleasurable ways. Some good books come through serendipity and whim, but it may be helpful to have a plan, at least a list; and

5. Stretch yourself occasionally by reading the more serious books. Perhaps, explore a new and unexpected topic for a year, reading several similar books or books by the same author. But don't read exclusively arcane and heavy stuff. Light fare and sweets can enhance any diet.

1 comment:

jc said...

From the article:
"[I]t seems that those who read widely possess a greater capacity to glean from life experiences than the non-reader does. "