Saturday, July 26, 2008

A good book is a dangerous thing

How dangerous, you ask? Dangerous enough to cause me, the queen of productivity, to neglect all but my most vital duties during the day. Dangerous enough to keep me up reading into the late hours of the night, sacrificing sleep (that most rare and precious resource for a young mother). But more importantly, it's wonderfully dangerous because it expands my view of the world and my place in it. It allows me to live vicariously through people both more and less fortunate than I am, to value experiences that are different than my own, and to increase in understanding and appreciation for humanity. Ultimately, I come to see my own life through fresh eyes, and develop a keener ability to distinguish the truly important from the noise of the insignificant.

As a child, reading was my favorite pastime, and it was common for me to spend more recesses in the library than out on the playground. In college, my reading-intensive Humanities major broadened my appreciation for good literature. But because I spent so much time reading for school, my recreational reading ceased altogether except for the summer months I spent out of school. After I graduated, marriage added a new element of reading enjoyment as my husband and I read together, each taking turns reading aloud to the other. (The only thing better than reading a good book is being able to share that experience with the person you love!) Now, as a mother of four little ones, reading is a guilty pleasure; an indulgence that I have a hard time justifying in my busy life. But a year or so ago, that started to change. A friend was encouraging me to join her book club, and in our conversations I had a revelation. I need to read -- not only for my sake, but for my family's sake as well. I inherited my love of books from parents who patronized the library almost as often as the grocery store (and with a large family that's saying something!), but how did I expect to pass that love on to my children if I didn't continue the tradition myself?

I did join my friend's book club. It's been a wonderful way to branch out beyond things I would have picked for myself. And as I learned in college, a good book discussion increases that book's potency. As a character expressed in a recent read, the magic of a book club is that "in hearing so many opinions about the same book, your own opinion expand[s], as if you'[ve] read the book several times instead of just once." In that same spirit of expansion, Jenny has invited me to contribute to her biblioblog. I'm excited to have yet another excuse to read, and look forward to adding to the conversation. (So thanks for the invite, Jenny!) There is power in sharing our opinions and reading experiences with each other, so I hope that all who read this blog will join the magic!


  1. I'm glad you said yes! It's fun to have conversations about books and like you, I feel like it expands my very small universe. And I figured out when my oldest was tiny that reading was an absolute necessity for my sanity. Sane mommy = good mommy.
    I'm excited. Let's get reading!

  2. A wonderfully dangerous thing... a little like Bilbo's warning about roads, and how you never know when you leave your door just where you will end up.

    When it was time for me to get my driver's license.... I didn't know how to get to Grandma's house (about 5 miles total distance) because I was always reading in the car.

    A nice post Cool Girl. I know that your love for books is a great thing, for you, your kids and your husband.

  3. OK, I was confused. I didn't realize until the end that it was CoolCaren writing and I told Sailor, "how neat! both Caren and Jenny got an article in the New Era!"
    oh well,
    I have to get used to the fact that there are two authors of RHE.

    very good post, CC


  4. Update:
    It wasn't hard to search your name in and find your article. I also was surprised to see that someone from our town was the first place winner that same year. I remember his name, but can't place a face. How cool. It's neat to think we have an author in our family.

  5. i am excited to hear what you have to say. and... welcome to the blogging world. it really is quite fun.

  6. yay! i'm excited that you are doing this too caren. i wish i were as good a reader/blogger but i barely do either. so i will definitely read what you have to say! i have to say i agree w/"annie" that i was confused for a minute, because i didn't read the previous post... heh heh. got it.