What Do You Read?

This is a question I have to ask myself quite a lot lately. I have to, of course, to pick interesting reads to talk about for you guys. I’m used to thinking about the question myself, but in all honesty there’s something in my that ticks nervously when someone else asks it of me. I get asked what sort of books I read all the time, at least partially because  one of the first things I can think to share with other people during small talks is “books? books.” It’s a good secondary question if “food? food.” goes nowhere special. I do want to clarify that I absolutely love talking about books. Hence this blog. However, I sometimes come across people people that make the discussion difficult.

There’s the plenty large crowd of folks who don’t read at all, not for fun anyway. I recall perhaps the shortest conversation I ever had about books. It went something along the lines of, “So, what do you like to read for fun, though?” “Oh, I don’t really read anything for fun, except for the Bible of course.” God bless that person’s soul, because if they thought the Bible was the only book that could provide them with spiritual enlightenment, even of a specifically Christian breed, they’ll need all the help they can get. When people in general feel like there’s nothing to be had by reading books at all, I get very bored with them very quickly, even if they do watch Game of Thrones on HBO.

Then there are those who tell me they would read but they never find the time for it. I mean, I get having less time to do things like read than you normally do. I’ve certainly experienced a significant reduction in reading time around finals week. Still, though, reading is one of those things that does make its way into you life if you like it. Does anyone feel like they can’t “make enough time” to watch hours upon hours of vines or clips of puppies doing silly things on the internet? No, that’s just something that happens. My mom was, at one point, raising two kids, working a part time job, and getting her masters degree and I don’t ever think she stopped reading anything less than two books at a time. Please stop acting like reading is going on an all organic diet or buying only fair trade coffee. It’s supposed to be fun you guys, not an excuse to sound like a potential hipster.

Okay, but those are just minor nuisances. The own thing that always makes me the most nervous is when I tell people what I read. I hope you’ll notice by now that I enjoy a wide variety of books and genres. I do, however, have a soft spot for things in the scifi and fantasy realms. Sometimes, that’s great. The person I’m talking with also loves Lord of the Rings and we go off having a grand old time. Other times, though, whoever I’m talking with will look somewhat downcast at my revelation and say, “Oh, I’m really more into non-fiction and history.” Like now, we’ve come so close, but have nothing to talk about because we picked different favorite genres. I suppose sometimes the geeky-nerdy community that sprouts up around scifi and fantasy can seem a bit insular and exclusive. However, I not only love reading plenty of books beyond that genre, including nonfiction and historical books; I also don’t care how much you know or care about my personal darling genres.

I think back to my young hatred of “chick-lit,” the feeling that I could never discuss books with the girls who called those books “literature.” Sure, I have a problem with people who isolate themselves from potential new reads and genres, but I happen to have a flexible reading palate and am more than willing to talk about any book or genre that pops up. I may have favorites, but as long as I keep exercising my literary muscles, and other people aren’t afraid to help me with that or even try it out for themselves, I find I could read just about anything and find something interesting to talk about with another person. Why yes m’am, I did read that murder mystery series you enjoyed that centered around a yarn shop and includes free knitting patterns in the back. Yes, professor, I did read Gravity’s Rainbow and found it a most mathematical yet passionate discussion of the modern human condition. (Note: That last part was only for illustrative purposes. I had to Google Gravity’s Rainbow to make that reference and I only ever skimmed those knitting mystery books for the sex scenes.)

Long story short, I’d really love the “What do you read?” question to be less about narrowing down a person’s likes and interests and more about broadening our bookish horizons. So, what do you read?


2 thoughts on “What Do You Read?

  1. Madeline,
    I’m so glad that you feel this way and I believe everyone should agree. It’s so hard trying to convince people that reading a book can be so much better than watching television. I especially like, “Please stop acting like reading is going on an all organic diet or buying only fair trade coffee. It’s supposed to be fun you guys, not an excuse to sound like a potential hipster.” So true!

    For the record, I’m a little bit too excited for Erik Larson’s ‘Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.’ It feels like too long since I’ve had a new Larson read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It would be nice if more people found reading fun, but regardless, like any personal pursuit people enjoy, I love reading and will do it regardless of others – we can take turns not understanding each other. I think it is interesting to explore “what do you read?” It’s almost like a compatibility test. Like can a democrat and a republican fall in love with each other? Or can someone who reads Walking Dead graphic novels fall in love with someone who Victorian Era murder mysteries? I would think the answer is of course, which makes a reader a reader. Maybe the most important trait is the one you mention about being willing to read other things – sometimes outside are normal interest zone. Keep reading – I’m about to bounce from American Revolutionary War historical fiction to nonfiction about the science of winning and losing.


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