Thursday, May 11, 2006
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?