The Examined Reading Life
Blogging has impacted my reading in many ways, both the kinds of books I choose and how I interact with them. It’s that latter one I thought I’d talk about today. When I was in high school, I joined the debate team, which led me into philosophy. In my free time, I began to read various works of philosophy in a completely engaged way: notes in the margins, dialogues with the authors, rereading passages, examining word choice, etc. And while this sounds like the blandest of chores, it was in fact deeply, wonderfully fun. These books were for my mind as going on a hike through a forest is for my body: full of beautiful views and fascinating things to study, even the slogging bits were enjoyable in the larger picture, and at the end of it all I felt pleasantly tired out from a good day’s work.
Blogging has brought that same attentiveness and insight to my general reading. Of course, I still have my comfort books that allow me to simply curl up and experience the story, but during most of my reading (even those comfort books), my mind is busily examining the text, my own reaction to the text, and connections with various other books that I’ve read. But the end, I’ve usually mentally composed at a least a paragraph or two about my experience with the book. Even if I never actually blog about it (due to health or time limitations), that engagement is still with me, enriching my memory of the book as well as my actual reading time, making reading even more meaningful and fun. I love this. I love that this seemingly quirky hobby provides so much, even when it’s only happening on an imaginary level! Over six years of blogging have left me with engrained habits, ones that will ensure I have an examined reading life in the future, even if the internet vanished tomorrow.
Luckily for me, that is unlikely to happen! So here’s to many more blogs and posts and e-mails and tweets, all creating a web of readers, who in our various serious and lighthearted and obsessive and intermittent and verbose and succinct ways are examining our reading lives. I wouldn’t have it any other way.