The Story Hour

I didn’t know what to title this little blurb you are about to read…. What I actually was thinking about was people’s lists of books they are reading/have read. Ever look through those lists? Some are quite long. Unlike mine, which accurately portray the fact that I have only had time to sporadically read something here or there.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about two things…..

One was discovered when I helped my mother disassemble my grandmothers home. I came across my grandfather’s list of books read. He was very organized and deliberate, and the extent of his accomplishment was surprising to me. Not that I doubted his studiousness, but this scholastic form of reading was foreign to me. A lifetime of self-inflicted required reading, so to speak. Rather than going to the library and randomly thinking, “ummmmmm, I think I am in the mood for this one and this one looks interesting, too”

My grandfather was the old-time sort of Reformed minister, and the books on his list were serious subjects. Many having to do with theology, of course, some with philosophy, and some with history and culture.

I wonder if some of the bloggers read in that way, in order to have such illustrious lists in their sidebars?

The second thought that came on the heels of remembering my grandfather’s lists, was an essay I had read that impressed me on this subject. I read it many years ago and can’t quite remember the reference…just the gist. It was this: that in our lifetimes we have only so much time, and of that time only so much that we may devote to reading books. The man was a deliberate and prolific reader, and on his want-to list were many classics- some were desired re-reads. He did some math and realized that if he read the maximum expected amount of books per month, he could not possibly accomplish all he hoped. And so the question arose, should he be more careful what he read? To stick with the reading that was the most …… what’s the word?……. profitable. Profitable to one’s intellectual goals.

Which -it goes without saying, but I say it anyway- are subjective to the particular person.

But have we thought of this, normally? How much time there is for what we feel is truly important and how we may be compromising that?

There are too many books in the world to read them all in a lifetime….even all the good ones. And of those of us who have put much time into reading, there is only so much time for all the different worthwhile pursuits, including reading.

It is the old adage applied in another form: Teach us to number our days. And in this case: our books.

2 thoughts on “The Story Hour”

  1. Agreed about the book lists. There used to be a column in one of the women’s magazines where you could apply to go on a date with this month’s “eligible bachelor”. One of the things you had to list in your application was what you were presently reading. Predictably, the reply was always either one of those books that try to explain scientific concepts to non-sciencey types, or something dead highbrow and intelligent which was receiving applause in the broadsheets. Maybe the winner of the Booker Prize, something like that. I always used to wonder “Are you really reading that for pleasure? Or to look good on the application form?”

    It’s a horrible thought, though, listing the books you feel you ought to read and reading them to the exclusion of all else. I like the “wandering vaguely around the library and picking ones which look interesting” approach meself, and I would have missed out on many a fine book if I didn’t do that. And I like to have more than one book on the go….

    I do have a list of books I should read, mostly on politics, and am making my way through them, but not at the expense of other books I want to read. Wouldn’t that just make it feel like a duty rather than a pleasure?

  2. “I like the “wandering….” approach meself”
    One more for the ‘alike’ column 😉

    I do think some people find lots of pleasure in the accomplishment of *duty*. They probably aren’t of the intp ilk.

    but one thing is for sure… it seems very wearisome to “read” for the sake of image. I have no idea how many do that… but I think it is leftovers from the foul idea one often picks up in school – forgetting that learning is a great adventure and a pleasurable journey.

    Nobody gets anything out of pretended intellectual desires. Those that truly have them will find the others out- and those that don’t have them waste precious time not cultivating the desires and abilities they do have. Not said well… it threatens to turn into post-length soliloquy here….

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