Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reading


Make sure to read my first post on The Three R's:
The Three R's

My name is Susan Garrison, and I am a bibliophile.

It really does help to make that confession. I feel all warm and fuzzy now :).

My infatuation with books really must be blamed on Parents Dear, who first taught me to read, and then surrounded me with books to devour :). We've always had a good selection of books at our house, and we've read books as a family, on our own, and for school. For years Mother Dear devoted the first hour of our school day to reading aloud, a homeschool memory which still remains among my favorites. Many of the books she read aloud to us I would not have tackled alone, so I was exposed to a wider variety of literature as a result. Sometimes we read historical books that went with our current history studies, other times we read adventure books or Christian classics. My love of books was doubtless begun and forwarded by the hours Mother Dear devoted to that pursuit during my childhood. If you want your children to love to read, then read with them and to them!

Among the first books I remember reading to myself were the Little House books, and for years those remained in my top list of books. I read These Happy Golden Years, in particular, countless times. From the beginning of my reading journey, I've loved books of times past :). Little Women and its sequels were early favorites, as were the Anne of Green Gables books. With Laura Ingalls, Jo March, and Anne Shirley as my childhood companions, it is no wonder that I turned into an Old-Fashioned Girl.

I've gone through various stages of reading over the years. Elementary school consisted of a heavily mystery diet; I was rather engrossed in the world of mysteries and had fantasies of finding a secret room in our house (a la Mandie Shaw. . . ) or uncovering a spy ring in our neighborhood (following the footsteps of Nancy Drew. . . ). I read about every juvenile mystery book our library and used book sales had to offer: The Boxcar Children, The Bobbsey Twins, The Mandie Series, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew, just to name a few. I might add here that perhaps such a heavy diet of mysteries was not healthy for a young, already-imaginative girl :).

Much of middle and high school found me with my nose buried in an historical fiction book. My particular favorite eras of American History were the Civil War and World War II, with an emphasis on the Underground Railroad and the Holocaust. Brother Dear says I must have had a fascination with people unfavored by the government, in hiding ;). The best non-fiction book on the Holocaust that I can recommend is The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It is such a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness and providence amidst suffering.

In high school and college I dabbled a good bit in inspirational fiction, but I find that genre to be iffy as to the quality, and the overly-detailed romances in the vast majority of the books of that genre really just leave me feeling dirty. I have found a few gems among the smut, though. I love Beverly Lewis' books on the Amish and Cindy Martinusen's books on the Holocaust. The latter, especially, are absolutely fascinating! I've read my share of inspirational fiction over the years, and after reading close to none over the past year, I have to admit that I don't really miss it as I thought I would.

My love of classic literature all started one summer in high school, when I decided to find out why Pride and Prejudice was such a famous book. I didn't personally know of anyone that had read the book, but I thought, "Why not? If nothing else, I'll be able to say that I tackled the famed volume." So, I checked a copy out of the local library, cracked the covers, and began to read. And I loved it! It was brilliant, it was witty, it was intriguing, it was thought-provoking, it was romantic. And I was hooked on Jane Austen. From there it was just a matter of time before I delved into more classic literature. There was something new to be gleaned from the pages of each classic literature book I cracked open! Within those pages I found complex plots and intricate characters that demanded careful study; classic literature uncovered a whole new layer of fictional reading to me; reading that demanded not just enjoyment, but analysis as well.

My interest in theological literature started a few years ago. Theology - especially reformed theology - is an area near and dear to my heart; of all subjects, it is really the most important, as all other areas of reading and study should flow out of our knowledge of God and our desire to see Him glorified. In fact, I believe that theological studies alone are a compelling reason for rigorous educational training. I am so thankful that Christianity is not a blind faith, and we don't have to leave behind our reasoning when we enter God's family! They more I study theology, the more I come to appreciate God in his infinite wisdom and sovereignty. As I try to forward my knowledge in the area of theology, though, I am constantly struck by just how little I know! Furthermore, it is important to realize that knowing about God is not the same thing at all as knowing God. I am particularly prone to forget this, so I speak primarily to myself.

Good reading materials are all well and good, but reading is so much more than deciphering the words on paper, as I continue to learn. It is so easy for me to read a good book, enjoy it along the way, put it down, and promptly forget most of it - much like Paul's description of the man that looks in a mirror and then forgets what he looks like as soon as he walks away. Reading is only profitable if the words read are internalized for reflection. I once heard a quote that I thought rather interesting: In a year you will be the same person you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read. I can't find the reference, so any help there would be appreciated. I can't say I completely agree with the quote - there is no direct acknowledgement of the working of God, which does not always come through those two channels - but I found it interesting to consider, nonetheless. It is true that books have an enormous impact on one's life, especially for those who read a great deal. I feel at times that I know certain characters in a book better than I even know some of my friends. I've learned many lessons in life from a fictional character between the covers of a book. Books are that real to me. Reading has always had a great effect on me; while I have never wept over a movie, I have been reduced to weeping by many, many books. The written word has a great impact on me.

It is rather interesting the different approaches people take to reading. Some absolutely hate reading or find it an unprofitable pursuit - very sad, I think - but even amongst avid readers there is such a difference in ways to approach reading. I've decided that I'm definitely an active learner. I learn by doing, which in reading means hand-copying interesting portions and turning the words over and over in my mind to make sense of and analyze them. It also means underlining and making notes in my books. I only started really doing this to a large degree about a year ago (after I finally got over the I'm-going-to-ruin-my-books syndrome), and it is amazing how beneficial it is for me! I remember and understand things that I underline, summarize, and copy so much better than things that I only read. I only wish I had started doing that long ago!

Interestingly, other avid readers I know find underlining and highlighting to be disctracting. *shrugs* We each have our own methods of internalizing information, I suppose. So what are your own habits and particular interests in reading? What is your favorite genre of literature?

15 comments:

Jessica said...

What a good post...but then who could go wrong talking about books?! Some of your favorites sound like mine...the books by L.M. Montgomery and Louisa Mae Alcott...and I remember re-reading These Happy Golden Years quite a few times too! (And the Mandie books...wow, those bring back memories! I loved those books...but it was interesting, I re-read one a couple years ago...and they're not even very well-written!)

And I agree with you about the "inspirational" fiction...some are good, but most are just "fluff"! Have you ever read any of the Thoene's books? Now those aren't fluffy at all! They've written a LOT of books, and I've only yet read two of their series, but the ones I read are excellent. The A.D. Chronicles especially...they're centered around the years of Jesus' ministry and the books just make the stories "come alive". That and the Thoene's really did a lot of research about Hebrew culture, etc. and it's amazing all of the symbolism in that culture and language...definitely a planned thing by an amazing God!

Okay, so I could go on and on and ON about books...but I'll just answer your questions and stop! Habits in reading...well, I don't underline or highlight in any books other than my Bibles...but I have a habit of turning down the corner of the page for a bookmark. My youngest sister especially hates when I do this, but it doesn't really hurt the book...much. Another habit is buying books...some girls have a problem with buying too many shoes...I have that problem with books (thank goodness for the Amazon Marketplace!)! Interests and favorite genres...well, I like historical fiction, most of the more "girly" classical fiction (I don't know if it would be considered "classical", maybe just plain old...but have you read any of the Pansy books?), some selected (as in, NOT The Prayer of Jabez and others of that ilk) Christian non-fiction...

Okay, I'm stopping now. Oh, books!

Mrs Blythe said...

I love books too. I keep meaning to add more to my profile as I remember them! But (sigh) Anne of Green Gables and sequels! Pride and Prejudice, and my particular favourite Persuasion.

I was much encouraged to read and so I encourage my children. My eldest, who is 4, loves reading and being read to. The books from school aren't very exciting, so I try to choose books at home that are books that she will take into her heart and love. For young children, beautifully illustrated books are a must, but they need a story to catch their interest too.

Sorry, I'm babbling a bit. Must see to kids now. Blessings :o)

Ashley said...

I always loved to read, but kinda stopped when I got to college. It was hard to pick up a book - even one I enjoyed - after tackling the heavy textbooks for class. Of course, I could argue that I did enjoy (most of) my assignments, especially in World Lit. and Historic Christian Belief. I also loved (and still do!) learning about Art History. That's my most recent obsession - books on artists and how art has affected history. So fascinating! I could go on and on. :-)

I generally don't highlight or underline except in my Bible (and in assignments for school), but I did highlight my favorite quotes in Anne of Green Gables.

I tend to reread old favorites a lot, especially when I'm at my parents house for vacation and am browsing the bookcases. I haven't built up my collection of books yet because I'm still moving around a lot - and anyone who has moved around will tell you that books are heavy and cumbersome and libraries are wonderful. :-)

I hope to instill a love for reading in my children by reading to them just like my parents read to us.

Mrs.B. said...

Aha! I am obsessed with highlighting and underlining and writing in books! (o: Another thing we have in common, Susan!

Since I was not raised in a Christian home I unfortunately read many books as a young person that I wish I didn't. So when I became a Christian books by Janette Oke became my friends. Yes, they're mainly 'fluff' but they're not 'romancy' and they helped me in my transition from worldly books to clean, good, edifying books.

Now I'm hooked on Keepers books. I just love how they reprint old fiction from the 17-1900's. The books back then had much to be gleaned from. I also like Keeper's prices! I did a review of some of my favourites, check out my April archives and you can see it if you're interested.

I've also read many theology books too but it's been awhile.

Blessings to you Susan!
**waves 'hi' to Ashley**

~Mrs. B

Jessica said...

I haven't built up my collection of books yet because I'm still moving around a lot - and anyone who has moved around will tell you that books are heavy and cumbersome and libraries are wonderful.

I can completely relate to that, it's always SO frustrating for me to decide which books to take with me when I'm moving somewhere! And the weight limits on airline baggage...the people who came up with those OBVIOUSLY aren't avid readers!

Now I'm hooked on Keepers books. I just love how they reprint old fiction from the 17-1900's. The books back then had much to be gleaned from. I also like Keeper's prices! I did a review of some of my favourites, check out my April archives and you can see it if you're interested.

Are you referring to "Keeper's of the Faith"? Haven't they reprinted a lot of books by Isabella Alden (Pansy)? Have you read any of those, Mrs. B.? They're excellent books!

Jessie said...

You ought to read "Julia's Hope" and "Emma's Gift" by Leisha Kelly. They're Christian fiction, but the story is SOOO good! Both books (but especially the first) were very encouraging to me. You get to see how the Lord provides for this family during the Depression (even though it is fictional).
My absolute favorite classic book is Jane Eyre. And The Scarlet Letter... And Silas Marner... mmm-mmm-mmm. Good books. : )
I never write in fiction books, and occasionally I write (very carefully!) in a nonfiction book or my Bible... And I never bend the pages! Or fold the covers back on paperback books... or crack their spines... no, no, no. (Okay, give me a break. I'm a librarian!)
Once I had a dream that my best friend (who underlines every good verse in the Bible (read: every verse in the Bible)) got a hold of my Bible and was marking it all up. I was so mad at her! "Give me that! Don't you go marking it all up like you do yours! I don't like mine all messy like you do!!!" ; ) (don't get me started on my bizarre dreams!!)
I really am going to e-mail you. I'm composing pages in my head... Too bad you can't just tune in : )
Pray for me tomorrow morning though. At 9:15 I'm going back to my podiatrist to see about getting the pin removed from my foot (I had bunion surgery last April on it) because it has worked itself out of my bone. (They told me it might do that.) I have a big knot on my foot where it's sticking out (not through the skin, thankfully!). It's kind of bruised too... and they're supposed to just slit it and pull out the pin. eek.

Along the same lines as reading habits, you've probably noticed one of my bad writing habits. (using too many parentheses.)

( =P )

Jessie said...

You ought to read "Julia's Hope" and "Emma's Gift" by Leisha Kelly. They're Christian fiction, but the story is SOOO good! Both books (but especially the first) were very encouraging to me. You get to see how the Lord provides for this family during the Depression (even though it is fictional).
My absolute favorite classic book is Jane Eyre. And The Scarlet Letter... And Silas Marner... mmm-mmm-mmm. Good books. : )
I never write in fiction books, and occasionally I write (very carefully!) in a nonfiction book or my Bible... And I never bend the pages! Or fold the covers back on paperback books... or crack their spines... no, no, no. (Okay, give me a break. I'm a librarian!)
Once I had a dream that my best friend (who underlines every good verse in the Bible (read: every verse in the Bible)) got a hold of my Bible and was marking it all up. I was so mad at her! "Give me that! Don't you go marking it all up like you do yours! I don't like mine all messy like you do!!!" ; ) (don't get me started on my bizarre dreams!!)
I really am going to e-mail you. I'm composing pages in my head... Too bad you can't just tune in : )
Pray for me tomorrow morning though. At 9:15 I'm going back to my podiatrist to see about getting the pin removed from my foot (I had bunion surgery last April on it) because it has worked itself out of my bone. (They told me it might do that.) I have a big knot on my foot where it's sticking out (not through the skin, thankfully!). It's kind of bruised too... and they're supposed to just slit it and pull out the pin. eek.

Along the same lines as reading habits, you've probably noticed one of my bad writing habits. (using too many parentheses.)

( =P )

Susan said...

I realized that about the Mandie books too, Jessica :)! I used to love them, but really, the plots were very recycled, especially the farther into the series it got :). I called it quits after the stolen turkey plot. *rolls eyes* The earlier ones were more interesting, imo.

Yes, I've read some of Bodie Thoene's books - The Zion Chronicles. I had mixed feelings about them. It was the best historical fiction series I had read, and I learned so much about Israel's statehood, but I also was uncomfortable with some of the romantic details in the series. Their historical details are unparalleled, though.

I used to turn down the corners of books too, but I don't do that anymore. I'd rather ruin my books by writing in them than by folding them :). Oh, I have a habit of buying books too! My weaknesses are garage sales and thrift stores. Who can pass up a 25 cent paperback? Or a 50 cent hardback? I've never heard of the Pansy books. What are they about?

Mrs. Blythe, that is wonderful that you are providing good books to your daughter early in her life. Good quality books will snag a child to love to read. I'd hardly call your comment babbling, btw :). It was one of the shorter comments, in fact. I am the queen of long comments (my record on another blog was 41 paragraphs), so I encourage people to say however much they want :).

Ashley, you're making me supremely jealous with your Historic Christian Belief class! Yes, moving around with a lot of books would be a pain, especially considering your moving track record :). When we moved to this house a few years ago, we had so many boxes of books!

Yay, Mrs. B! Someone else who highlights and underlines. I mostly get reactions like, You're ruining your books! :)

I have read some of Janette Oke's books and find them to be pretty clean, mostly romantic in an appropriate sense. One of my favorite Christian books, in fact, is her book Roses for Mama. That is such a bitter-sweet book! I love it when companies reprint old books that have come out of print; I bet I would like some of the Keepers books.

Jessie, those books you mentioned sound good :). (I do love Christian fiction, so please no one get me wrong. I only meant that I've been trying to limit myself and be more choosy.) The Depression is another era in history that I love :).

How can you like Jane Eyre more than P&P???? I suppose I'll forgive you ;). Jane Eyre is a very interesting book, though I have to admit I've never been a huge Mr. Rochester fan. I do love the story, though, and Jane. The Scarlet Letter and Silas Marner are so good! Have you read Daniel Deronda by George Elliot (who wrote Silas Marner)? That is a very complex book, and the movie is good too. Actually, The Count of Monte Cristo is probably my favorite - complex doesn't even begin to describe that book!

Your account of your dream was hilarious! Hannah would be the type to have that kind of dream. Underlining and highlighting irritate her :).

Sure you're going to e-mail me ;). I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one who composes e-mails in my head! I do that to the point that I really feel like I've already sent the e-mail :).

I'm praying for you :). Thanks for letting me know. I hope it goes well!

Jessica said...

Hmmm...I've never read any of the Thoene's Zion books...but I can relate with being uncomfortable with the "romantic details"...SO many good books are ruined that way! The A.D. Chronicles (at least numbers 1-3, I have yet to read number 4...but my sister said it was really good!) didn't have that problem which I really appreciated! Oh, and another non-fluffy Christian fiction writer is Francine Rivers...have you read any of her? Her books are excellent! I especially like and recommend The Atonement Child and The Last Sin-Eater...just thinking about them makes me want to read them yet again!

The Pansy books were written in the later 1800s and thus most of the ones you can find nowadays are reprints (though I do have one original one)...if I remember correctly, Keepers of the Faith reprints quite a few of them, but I've never bought any from them...the ones I bought were close-outs, I think the company was Mantle Ministries? Anyway...Pansy is just the pen-name for Isabella Alden, the author (in Anne of Green Gables, they mention a Pansy book...I think it was in the chapter when Anne decides not to go back to school)...and she just wrote good Christian fiction. The ones that I have are mostly about young women and the struggles they go through and what the Lord teaches them...but from reading descriptions of other of her books, her plots sound quite varied. Anyway...in case you can't already tell, I really recommend them!

Ashley said...

*waves hi to Mrs. B*
I'm gonna be a Mrs. B in 78 days. :-) Hehe sorry couldn't resist

Susan, you would have loved both my Historic Christian Belief class... I learned so much, and we read a lot of the original documents from the church fathers as they were debating issues.

I really am going to e-mail you. I'm composing pages in my head... Too bad you can't just tune in
I love that, Jessica! I wish people could tune into my head too, I would get a lot more letters written that way. ;-)

When we were growing up, the MTW missionaries were looking for someone to house their library for a few years while they made the move to Lima from the mountains. We offered and we had several bookcases and trunks of books all through our house. They were all books that were published in the 50's/60's, and I loved them. Have you ever heard of Judy Bolton? Similar to Nancy Drew... and I fell in love with Mary Stewart's books... And Enid Blyton's books. I used to take a pile of books up to the maid's quarters on our roof and just read for hours and hours. We had to leave almost all our books in Peru when we left - that made me so sad! I had quite a few series I had to leave there, like the Cat Who books. I should have brought those and left my Mandie series! :-)

Ooh I love Jane Eyre... and Count of Monte Cristo is definitely one of my favorites. I should reread them... after I'm done with To Kill a Mockingbird and Emma. Oh yes, and after I'm done reading Susan's copies of the Anne series... (I need to give those back to you :-p)

Mrs.B. said...

"I'm gonna be a Mrs. B in 78 days. :-) Hehe sorry couldn't resist"

Congratulations Ashley! I've been a 'Mrs. B' for almost 14 1/2 years and I HIGHLY recommend it!

Of course I think I have the BEST 'Mr. B' but I'm sure you think that about yours as well! (o;

Sorry Susan.....yes, this IS still YOUR blog! LOL (o:

Susan said...

I've never read any Francine Rivers, Jessica, though I've heard good things about her books. The Pansy books sound really good!

That's funny, Ashley! I hadn't thought about you being another Mrs. B :).

I'm trying to remember if I've read Judy Bolton - maybe one or two, I'm guessing? I've read a few different books that are similar to Nancy Drew. The Dana Sisters? Something like that.

Yes, I keep hearing that you're going to finish them soon ;). I've really been missing my third set of Anne books, Ashley! What if Hannah and Mom and I all want to read them at the same time???? I need them back!

Mrs. B, don't apologize! You're welcome to converse with Ashley or others on my blog :).

Anna Naomi said...

Wow, wow, wow! I read and loved almost all of the books you've mentioned! Anne of Green Gables, Louisa May Alcott, and of course the Little House books have been my companions!! I don't know how many times I've re-read them! I've just gotten into Jane Austen, and have enjoyed 3 of her books, and most certainly Pride and Prejudice! I really enjoy Janette Oke, and Roses For Mama is one of my absolute favorites! I could go on and on... Anyways, I really enjoyed your post!

Anonymous said...

you call yourself a bibliophile, which is exactly my Xanga handle. Come check out my reviews from time to time.

Father's Grace Ministries said...

What good taste you have in books! Yes, growing up I made friends with Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls& Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy & many more. Now, like your Mum, I'm encouraging my children to love books. I've done a couple of posts on books & reading on my blog recently.
Claire