Tag s | Reading

How Are You Reading?

I collect books. I graze through them like I’m at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I sample this tidbit and that. Eventually, I get enough to eat or find the right morsel to consume until it is finished.

It makes me an eclectic sort. But there are days, even weeks, when I must discipline myself to become immersed in extraordinary writing. It is there where the soul can be fed and nourished.

I came across a quote from the great Charles Bridges, a well-respected pastor in the Church of England whose Exposition of Psalm 119 (published in 1827) is a masterpiece. A couple years later he wrote a book directed at people in the ministry. I found a selection that is particularly applicable to everyone who reads, especially in our modern era of content consumption without digestion.

Ardent minds wish, and seem almost to expect, to gain all at once. There is here, as in religion, “a zeal not according to knowledge.”— There is too great haste in decision, and too little time for weighing, for storing, or for wisely working out the treasure. Hence arises that most injurious habit of skimming over books, rather than perusing them. The mind has only hovered upon the surface, and gained but a confused remembrance of passing matter, and an acquaintance with first principles far too imperfect for practical utility. The ore of knowledge is purchased in the lump, but never separated, or applied to important objects.

Some again need discretion in the direction of their study. They study books more than themselves. They lose themselves in the multiplicity of books; and find to their cost, that in reading as well as “making books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Bishop Wilkins observes, “There is as much art and benefit in the right choice of such books, with which we should be most familiar, as there is in the election of other friends or acquaintances, with whom we may most profitably converse.” No man can read everything; nor would our real store be increased by the capacity to do so. The digestive powers would be overloaded for want of time to act, and uncontrolled confusion would reign within. It is far more easy to furnish our library than our understanding.

May you be inspired to think about what you are reading and why you are reading it. If our recent crisis has helped you slow down, don’t forget those lessons and apply them to your next great book experience.

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In Praise of Memorable Sentences

In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard tells the story of a well-known writer who was collared by a university student, who asked, “Do you think I could be a writer?” “Well,” the writer said, “I don’t know…. Do you like sentences?” Dillard continues: The writer could see the …

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Test Your Writing Out Loud

Once you write something, try reading it out loud. It might change the way you write. I worked with audiobooks for a number of years and few things were more interesting than how something sounded when read aloud by the audiobook performer, whether it was the author or a professional …

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Fakespot

As a reader, I enjoy perusing book reviews. I usually start my assessment of a book by reading one-star reviews to see the worst the reviewers think. One-star reviews will tell me the book’s pitfalls and problems, and are less predictable than glowing reviews. I do read across the star …

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Why I Read to the End

I am the world’s worst about abandoning novels I read for leisure. I’ll give a book a fair chance, but as soon as I find I don’t like it, I have no compunction about tossing it aside to pursue a different story. And believe me, as a literary agent, I …

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What’s on Your Shelf?

A series of interview questions that dig into my reading life. What’s on your nightstand right now? I am an extremely eclectic reader and have dozens of books waiting for attention. In fiction I’m currently reading Run Program by Scott Meyer a science-fiction story of a newly developed artificial intelligence …

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Read It Twice!

I read Gone with the Wind for the first time in the seventh grade. Then I reread it in the eighth grade. Daddy fussed at me for this. “Why are you reading the same book again? You should read something else.” I know he had a point, but I consumed …

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