Essays

To Read or Not to Read? Revisited

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We’ve all heard the worn out phrase “Life is short.” As humans, we don’t like to really take time to think about life long enough to evaluate the truth of that statement. Nobody likes to think about it.

I’ve become more aware of life’s brevity as I hurtle towards my thirtieth birthday. Anyone older than me will roll their eyes at my perception of life slipping through my fingers. I’m a baby, just beginning my journey. Life and all it’s possibilities still lie at my door! To some of you, I’m a dinosaur. How can anyone be thirty? It’s just so far away from your situation. Thirty was once far away from my life too.

Humans (hopefully) will reach a point in their life where they realize 1) there are too many things to do and 2) they will never do them all. It took me almost thirty years to get there. After the realization comes the choice; I have to choose what I will do, what is important to me, and I must choose carefully.

What does this have to do with reading?

First, reading is important to me and my family. Second, there are too many books and I can never read them all.

Several months ago I wrote a post about why humans read. You can read it here.  I asked myself the “why read” question again, this time from a perspective of limited time. What do I want from my reading? What do I want to have at the end of the road?

My children have started school, and by proxy, so have I. Being back in the world of learning, and history, and art, and poetry, science and discovery made me realize that what I want is an active education. By “active” I mean engaged purposeful reading.

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Susan Wise Bauer lays out a plan of reading to self-educate in her book The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. The first four chapters of this book both encouraged and shamed me. They encouraged me that anyone can learn to read well and with purposeful intent. They shamed me because I had the privilege of a wonderful education that taught me to do just that; I was just lazy.

So now that I’m (almost) thirty, I’m going back to school. For real this time.

-rj

 

Ornamnets3

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