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The Examined Reading Life

April 9, 2013

examined
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.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2013 10:07 pm

    You have said it all so well. I am not always so analytical in my reading, but I do know that my exposure to other readers and how they think about books has affected the way I read myself.

  2. April 10, 2013 8:31 am

    I could honestly just “ditto” Jeane’s comment above. :) I wish I was better at being critical of what I read, but I know I most certainly am far more so than I ever was pre-blogging. So YES YES YES to that last paragraph!!!

  3. April 10, 2013 8:41 am

    I’m much less experienced at blogging, but I have definitely found myself thinking much much more about the books I read as a result of blogging. I too find myself thinking about what I will say about a book as I read it.

  4. April 10, 2013 8:51 am

    Great thoughts! I hope the health is well as can be at this point. It is always so nice to see you blog!

  5. April 10, 2013 9:33 am

    I share your experience with blogging and particularly liked your comparison with going for a hike in the forest. I, too, almost always start composing a review long before I finish a book. For me it is a way of creating a dialog with both possible readers of my blog and with the author. I also find myself composing reviews that never get to the computer as a way to distract my mind when my health interfers with anything more active.

  6. April 10, 2013 10:34 am

    I think blogs expand your reading Horizons and give us a endless list of books we want to read ,all the best stu

  7. boardinginmyforties permalink
    April 10, 2013 1:20 pm

    Well said Eva!

  8. April 10, 2013 6:08 pm

    You’ve certainly captured the feeling I have about blogging & reading. Since I began blogging 7 yrs ago, I’ve noticed both that I engage more critically while reading, and that my reviews are often longer and more detailed than when I began blogging (not always, but…) I love the fact that reading what others have to say makes me more conscious of my own opinions and thoughts on a book even while I am reading it.

  9. April 21, 2013 3:56 pm

    You have definitely captured what I love about blogging as well! Thank you.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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