American Elephants

How Much Do You Read? What’s the Best Book You’ve Ever Read? by The Elephant's Child

What do you do when someone asks you to read an article because it’s “an important one?” Do you obediently read it, assuming that if your friend recommends it, it is worth your time? Do you accept the article, suggesting that you will read it later when you have more time? Do you just refuse to read it because you’re sure it is not of interest?

I fit in the first category. I’m a speedy reader, and it doesn’t take me long to get through even a long piece. But I have known a lot of what I think of as ‘lazy readers’ whose first reaction is that they don’t have time. Or they only want to read what they choose to read. It’s as if reading is a task to be engaged in only when required. Was learning to read a struggle in school? There are people who read competently, but without enjoyment or need for information, but who will spend hours on Twitter. Do you prefer to get your information instead by video, or podcast? Is reading a chore?

I have a friend who is a special education expert, with particular emphasis on reading, and reading disabilities. She went into her state’s prisons at one time, to test prisoners, and found that the numbers who had some form of reading disability was far, far higher than in the general population.

There are lots of people out there who just don’t read much, and people who do not read books at all.  They are just busy with other things.

If you prowl around the internet and read blogs, you are clearly a reader. But what about those other folks who are not? How do people go all the way through university, and, as adults, never read?

Seattle is usually described as the part of the country where most people read a lot. We have busy libraries, lots of colleges and universities, and lots of writers. Must be something to do with the weather, which encourages a brisk fire in the fireplace. a good book and a cup of coffee.

ADDENDUM: I guess I shouldn’t ask others about their favorite books, if I don’t reveal my own. Patrick O’Brian’s series of books about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and the Royal Navy in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There are 20 books in the series and I have read them probably ten times, and always found them fascinating to re-read. Most novels don’t welcome even a second reading. Master and Commander is the first, and only a page in and you are hooked. Master and Commander was a great movie too, although based on bits from several of the books.


7 Comments so far
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Manalive by G.K.Chesterton is my favorite thing ever produced by a human. I can’t hold it up as “the best” work of literature by wordsmith in standards (which is not to say Chesterton was not a staggeringly excellent writer. he was.)

But I’m definitely in the 2nd camp. people give me things to read all the time and I find that from strangers to best friends of nearly 30 years, nobody seems to have a decent bead on what I’m going to enjoy or take hold of. so I just ignore them, unless it’s a really attractive girl who physically puts a book in my hands.


Comment by Michael Wilson

I’m a rather voracious reader… I’ll read anything recommended to me by someone I trust (I’ve hit a couple titles you’ve suggested!). Histories are my biggest thing; I’ve just had occasion to re-read a biography of Huey Long, and I’m just finishing a “The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty”, by Wilfred Sheed. It’s about the songwriters and musicians from the Golden Age (the early 1900’s to the late 40’s).

For escapism, I read (and re-read) Tolkien, Bradbury, Asimov… David Eddings has a couple of good series that I like to read. I LOVE Agatha Christie (partial to Poirot), and Sherlock Holmes and anything related to the canon.


Comment by Lon Mead

I’m just finishing Dexter Filkins “The Forever War” which is excellent. I never seem to read anything when it first comes out. You would probably enjoy Alvin Kernan’s autobiographical “Crossing the Line” Raised in the mountains of Wyoming, he naturally went to sea when he got out of high school. December 8, 1941 found him a seaman on the USS Enterprise. At Midway he was on the Hornet, and subsequently managed to be in the middle of practically everything in the Pacific. After the war, GI Bill and he eventually became a distinguished professor at Yale and Princeton, How that came about is in his second book “In Plato’s Cave” where he found himself in the middle of the battles of the transformation of higher education. Also “The Unknown Battle of Midway” which I haven’t read.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Just finished “Robogenesis” by Daniel Wilson about the coming robot war. That was fun. Now I’m reading “The Zhivago Affair” about the international kerfuffle over “Dr. Zhivago.”


Comment by Infidel (@AZlibrarian)

Also loved Anthony Burgess’s bks “Earthly Powers” & “End of the World News.” He was very sarcastic & very smart.


Comment by Infidel (@AZlibrarian)

Empire of the Summer Moon / S C Gwynne best book this year!


Comment by Mike Schirman (@hey_sherm)

This is fun. I knew you were all readers, but you like books I haven’t heard of and will have to look up. I’m making a list!


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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