Reading as a Way of Life

Reading as a Way of Life

I never leave the house without a book . . . BUT one busy Wednesday when an unexpected medical appointment pushed an already derailed schedule even further off track, I jumped into the driver’s seat of our car, headed down the bumpy hill of our driveway, and only then realized the horrible truth. In my rush, I had not even thought to grab my book on the way out the door. Time was already in short supply, so there was no turning back. My fate was sealed, so I faced the daunting prospect of a waiting room chair and magazine roulette with as much courage as I could muster.

If you are not a bookish individual, well. . . you’re probably thinking that I have bigger problems than an over-booked Wednesday. However, if you ARE of a book-ish persuasion, then I feel certain that you have just commiserated with me throughout this first paragraph, because you know. When reading is a way of life, there’s always a book somewhere. Packing for vacation becomes a delightful process of choosing the right number, size, and selection of books to fit the space and the time available. Finishing the book of the moment always leads to the joyous question of, “What Should I Read Next?” Anne Bogel has come alongside book lovers with a podcast that seeks to answer that important question, and now there is a book, a collection of essays, uniquely crafted for the bibliophile’s journey through life, coming from a guide who is also a fellow traveler.

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life is the conversation you long to have over tea with a fellow book nerd. It’s the 150-page embodiment of the classic C.S. Lewis friendship filter question: “What? You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”  True to her claim that she “doesn’t get bossy,” Anne poses a number of the great questions of the reading life, shares her own conclusions in a conversational style, and leaves readers free to live their way into their own conclusions as they experience the delights and persevere through the dilemmas of the reading life:

To Find or to Be Found?

While Anne makes reading recommendations to guests on her podcast, she is also a firm believer that “books move in mysterious ways” (29) and may come looking for you at just the right time. Of course, it is also true that for the sincere book lover, planning one’s reading is a huge part of the fun, and suggestions from friends and catalogs and book reviews make this kind of planning possible.  Recommendations from one adult to another should never be delivered as assignments, and Anne warns against the word “should–a dangerous word, a warning sign that we’re crossing an important boundary and veering into book bossiness.”

What’s your opinion? Do you like to find your books or do you prefer to be found by them?

Library or Bookshelves?

The minimalist in me loves my local library. I can read, enjoy, and return without making a dent in the precious space on my bookcases. Some books, however, just have to become part of the collection, and Anne offers suggestions for organizing those book shelves that range from suggested methods (by color? by Dewey Decimal? by Trivial Pursuit Category?) to thoughts on the expendability of dust jackets. Before I started reviewing books for publishers, at least 75% of my reading material came from the library. Now, I read fewer than a dozen library books per year, which makes me a little sad.

Are you a borrower or a buyer?

Do You Read the Extra Stuff?

Anne recalls the season in which she began reading the author’s acknowledgements, discovering whom they thank, in what order, and what they divulge about their writing process. To me this is all a gold mine! In addition, I keep an extra book mark in the footnotes so I can easily turn back and refer to them as they appear in the text. (They are a great source for future reading!)

Do you skip over the introduction, author’s acknowledgement, and footnotes to a book or are they part of the reading experience for you? 

To Re-read or Not to Re-read?

One fall in the early 90’s a friend recommended Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety, and it became my go-to read every autumn for years afterward. I picked it up again this fall for a ruminative re-read after a gap of at least ten years and found that the aging process has only heightened my appreciation of the book. Bogel, too, has “found that a good book not only holds up to repeated visits, but improves each time we return to it. Thousands of years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.'” Because we change, a re-read is hardly ever a static experience.

Do you feel as if there are too many great books in the world to bother re-reading or do you re-visit old books like old friends?

Are You a Book Person?

I’d Rather Be Reading piggybacks on a rich Madeleine L’Engle quote:

“The great thing about getting older is you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”   

Your present day reading life has been shaped by all the readers you have ever been. This is good news because it means that somehow, in this season of reading lots of Christian non-fiction, my impressions are being enriched by my depressing-Russian-novel-phase, my obsession with Luci Shaw’s poetry, and the year I read nothing but Tolkien.

If you regularly find yourself getting hooked on a story line, if you think about the characters in a book long after you’ve reached the last page (maybe even mentally continuing the story or wondering what those characters are up to), or if you feel as if you know a favorite author well enough to have decided that they could be your friend should you happen to meet them–or that you would be terrified of them–you are probably a book person. For you, reading is more than a hobby or a pastime or a means to an end. Reading is a way of life.

Many thanks to Baker Books for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Loving the reading life,

Michele Morin

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life,simply click on the title here or within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

62 thoughts on “Reading as a Way of Life”

  1. I know I’ll love this book, Michele! And I can so relate to your dilemma of leaving home without a book. Now with my kindle app this cannot happen, however, I don’t enjoy reading a book on my phone. And I’ve come to a point in my life when I prefer to hold a book in my hands rather than read it on a device. Such good questions! I try to read from the library as much as possible for all the reasons you outlined. Right now I’m reading the Sensible Shoes series by Sharon Garlough Brown – borrowed from a friend and oh, so good! So I know what I’ll be reading next until I get through the 4th book. Then I’ll be looking for a book – or will it look for me?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I happily read everything included in a book, hoping that it will give me more clues to know the author better. It’s embarrassing how many years I have done this. I have read a few chapters of this book, pre-launch, so it’s time to read it all.

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  3. Michele, this post made me smile in the best of ways. I so agree – I never leave home without a book. And packing my books for vacation … I love it! I have always been a reader and now love to share my books with others, both in review and in giving them away at times. Lovely review and another book I will need to check out 🙂

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  4. Oh yes, I try never to leave the house without a book and we often have a book on CD going in our car too. I love wandering libraries and bookstores to find books but I also love getting suggestions from other readers and bloggers. I do re-read books but not all the time since there are so many wonderful ones out there to choose from.

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  5. Ah, yes, my friend, I very much am lost without a book by my side whenever I leave the house. I, too, also take time evaluating how many or which books I take on a trip (whether for a weekend or a week). Books are ever good companions opening my eyes, heart, and mind to new ideas, new perspectives, new places and people in the world. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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  6. I know that a true “book” lover will cringe at this suggestion, but have you thought about reading on a Kindle app on your phone, Michele? That’s what I do when I’m stuck somewhere without a book in hand. Just a thought … trying not to “assign” that dirty task to you! Lol!

    I do love reading, but don’t do near the volume of reading that you do, my friend! You always inspire me to read more!

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  7. Great questions! I live in the middle ground…some books I choose, some find me. I reread the good ones, and nowadays, I actually only purchase physical copies of the good ones that I want to reread. I read mostly on my Kindle app, and I hardly ever go to libraries (too many rules, not enough available hours).

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  8. I have this book on my Christmas wish list! I like Anne’s distinction between recommending and using the word “should.” I’m liable to back away from lists of what I “should” read, but I like recommendations from people I trust. I like being intentional with my reading plans to a degree, yet leaving wiggle room for surprise discoveries. I know what it is to read a book at just the right time for it – even when it’s a book I have had for years and just “happened” to pick up. I’m starting to use the library more. When we moved here, we had to leave two built-in bookcases behind, so we had to make do with the bookcases we could bring with us. It was hard to give away books – I consider them old friends! On the other hand, it was freeing to send some to a good home that I didn’t think I’d ever read again (or read for the first time…). But…I still have a couple of boxes of books tucked in closets that I just couldn’t let go of. 🙂 I do like reading all the before and after info, though I generally just glance through footnotes if it is all just reference. If there are tidbits of extra details there, I do stop and read them. I love rereading books – certain books, anyway. It’s hard to do when my TBR list is so long, but there are several I have reread many times as well as a whole list I’d like to reread.

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    1. I sure hope your elves pay good attention to your wish list!
      I really appreciate your taking time to answer the questions I posed.
      And I agree with you about the “should,” particularly because I “should” myself almost to death with my piles of books to be reviewed for publishers.
      One of my re-reading dreams is to hit all of my favorite C.S. Lewis nonfiction books again. Maybe in 2019?

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  9. I always enjoy chat about books and it sounds like I’d love this book! I understand your distress at leaving the house without a book. It’s always good to have something to read!
    I was in the hairdresser’s the other day and she had a bookshelf with a fascinating collection of books but I only had a few minutes to look while I was waiting. I had to smile when, as she got ready to begin cutting my hair, she asked if I’d like a “gossip magazine” to read! I was tempted to name one of the books and ask for that instead, however I just politely told her that since I’d taken my glasses off for the haircut and my eyesight is really bad without them I’d be fine!

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    1. Ha! Good choice!
      And our dentist has a shelf of books in his waiting room. I bring a book with me, but always make sure I check out the little stack he is sharing because it’s interesting to talk books with him (while his hands are in my mouth–ugh!).

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this breakdown of books and reading! Thank you! I also love that fact that my INSPIRE ME MONDAY os on your blog! I started that! That is my button! I love seeing it there! DO you still link up to that? : )

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  11. I miss reading soo much! I just don’t have the time! My nana was a voracious reader. She always had a thick book next to her reading chair with the curved lamp over the top.

    I was just thinking yesterday how I miss reading fiction. If I do make time to read, it is usually a non-fiction book, but there is just something so relaxing about getting lost in the story line of fictional characters.

    Thanks for sharing what appears to be a very clever read!

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    1. I do love fiction as well, and it’s always the sort of thing that I save for a “treat,” like during a family vacation or a holiday season.
      And then there are the books that I return to just because they are so dear!

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  12. Book nerd? You bet! Usually I find the books, but every now and then a great book finds me… I generally have two books going at once. Print book for daytime and kindle eBook for late night reading. Just in case I have to leave the house unexpectedly and forget to grab a book or my kindle, I always have a couple of go-to’s in the glove box and a small devotional collection in my purse–life savors! ❤ Happy reading and writing, Michelle. xo

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    1. I just love the way you’ve responded to these questions, Bette! Thanks for taking the time to be so specific.
      And GO TO’s in the glove box elevate you to super hero status in my book! I think I’m going to stash a book in my car!

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  13. Michele … I absolutely loved this book! It’s in my top 10 or 11 favorites for this year. There was something so refreshing about Anne’s words and her observations. For sure, a must-read and a great-to-carry-along little volume!

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  14. I feel your pain. Hope you made it through the game of waiting room magazine roulette! I am not a borrower, unfortunately. I know I could save money, but I don’t like the pressure of the return-by date. “Crossing to Safety” is one of my favorites too, as are many of Stegner’s books. I just finished reading Quo Vadis, which was given to me by my oldest son. It was a little slow in the beginning, but eventually, I could not put it down. I would be upset if I left it behind for a trip to a waiting room!

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  15. I have to admit its been about 4 years since I got to sit down and read for myself. I love books but I’m so busy reading with my children and getting their vocabulary up that I just don’t read books for myself anymore. Perhaps in a few years I will be able to. Right now I am a book borrower because their little minds require so much knowledge, I couldn’t possibly afford all those books! #MixitUp

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  16. Book lover here as well. I’ve found having the Kindle and Audible apps on my phone help with the accidentally leaving the house without a book. I much prefer a hard copy but that way I find I can squeeze even more reading in.

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  17. My Kindle goes everywhere with me. I read in doctors’ waiting rooms, on long car journeys, and snatched minutes during the day here and there. My mum used to tell me off if I read at the dinner table though…

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  18. I really enjoyed Anne’s book too. Though we have different reading tastes, I connected with her love of reading and her experiences with it.
    I love being able to pick a book from my bookshelves, but also use my library frequently. Good thing or I would end up spending way to much on books!

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  19. I am a reader and find that I love to hav reading material with me wherever I go too. Since working at the library, I am becoming more of a borrower of books, but love to buy books that I can write in, highlight, and love even more.

    I did find myself beginning to breathe shallowly as I read the first paragraph above. I think we are kindred spirits.

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  20. I am a reader and like you never go anywhere without something to read if I can help it. I never thought I would enjoy Kindle and still prefer to hold a book in many cases especially if it’s something I’ll refer back to. I’m an underliner and my margins are full of notes. Kindle just isn’t the same in that regard. But I’m thankful for Kindle in those moments when I have unexpected time to read. I do read everything. I start with the blurb on the back and then go to the preface, intro, etc. I have found so many nuggets there! Have a great weekend, Michele!

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  21. I LOVE LOVE LOVE books so much. I reread all of them, they always seem better than the last time I read them. I feel your pain at sitting in an appointment without one. That being said, I should pay more attention to the “just keep turning” pages – as I used to call them. #GlobalBlogging

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  22. Well, you know that I am reader! This looks like a fun book, and I still hold on to hope that someday I’ll sit across a table from you and get to discuss these kinds of things in person! Until then, thanks for your faithfulness at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com – our virtual tea table! 🙂
    Tina

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I developed a love of reading when I was about 10 years old and my teen years were filled with Anne of Green Gables (she gave me a wonderful escape from my life) and as I got older I did go through fazes of different books. My reading slowed to a halt after becoming a mom and now that I’m a busy single mom, I try to read at least one book a month. Last month I didn’t get to read any book and it has made me feel off kilter ever since. I’ve been needing a book to read but I’m a buyer, not a borrower so I haven’t found a book I want to pay money for recently. I really want to read a Christmas themed book though. #ABloggingGoodTime

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    1. Good for you that you make time in your VERY full life for books. I’ve reviewed a number of Christmas themed books, so there are recommendations here on the site if you enter “Christmas” in the search field. Like you, I always like to have a special book for advent.

      Liked by 1 person

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