Books

I like books. So much for my compelling introduction. Reading books is a skill that we are taught from a fairly young age. As we mature we start reading different types of books. Some people read books that are mostly for entertainment: the Harry Potter Series, the Percy Jackson series etc. Others read books for their insights on humanity Diary of Anne Frank,  Mere Christianity. etc. Other people just don’t read books, but I won’t talk to those people, because chances are if they are not the kind of people reading books, they are not the kind of people who will read blogs. Whatever kind of book reader you are, you probably haven’t thought about it.

I recently read “How to Mark a Book” by Mortimer Adler. My first thought upon reading his essay, was pity. Can you imagine trying to get through high school with a name like Mortimer. That poor kid. Like honestly what kind of a parent names their kid Mortimer? Just with the name, they effectively killed his chances at being picked first in any sport. No wonder he is so passionate about books being our friends, they are probably the only ones he has.

In his essay Adler classifies readers into three categories; the first category is the reader who owns a lot of books, but never reads any of them; the second is the reader who has read most of the books he owns, but never writes in the books; the third is the reader who marks up everything he owns, he may only own a few books, but he has read them and annotated them time and time again. Adler classifies himself as one of these readers, and says that this style of reading better because “A few friends are better than a thousand acquaintances.” He must have read that somewhere.

I personally am the second reader. I have read every book in my possession, except Lord of the Rings. A friend gave it to me as a gift, and try as I may, I just never could finish it. I have never willingly taken notes on a book, and I am OK with that. I read books for fun. I appreciate that books can be good for gaining knowledge, but I will leave those books to the scholars.

Now you might be saying Michael, don’t you want to improve yourself as a writer? Or if you are not on a first name basis with me you might be saying, O great blogger, don’t you want to improve yourself as a writer? Absolutely, but whenever I have read books and annotated them, it has led me to resent them. I definitely believe that reading a lot makes you a better writer, and I have tried to read critically, but I just end up being bored with the book by the end. If I start hating books, then I will start hating writing, and if I start hating writing, then I’m out of a job, and you are out of a blog to waste your time reading. I want to stay right where I am in my happy little bubble of reading books for fun.

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4 thoughts on “Books

  1. O Great Blogger, this is a well written blog that I honestly enjoyed reading. You always integrate not only humour, but a welcoming atmosphere for the reader. You draw your reader in by being completely open and vulnerable. You speak your mind and, therefore, encourage the reader to listen to what you have to say. You developed Mortimer Adler’s essay well and expanded on his thoughts. I would encourage you to dwell a bit more on your take on books. I know that you talk about the fact that you read books just for fun and that you are against annotating books, but could you potentially expand on this a bit more? You could go into more about why you are against annotations and why you feel that they get in your way of enjoying a book. You say in your final paragraph, “Whenever I have read books and annotated them, it has led me to resent them.” Maybe go into a bit more why you resent them. Otherwise, you don’t seem to be making much of an argument beyond the fact that you read books for fun. I love that you talk about your personal take on books and how you read them– this is great; don’t loose that. Still, though, I would urge you to expand your blog to your readers– why is this important to them? What can they take away from your blog that will challenge them or leave them with a lasting impression?

    I, too, am probably the second kind of reader. While I would love to be the third, I often am too eager to read the book through and through to stop and take notes (that is, if it’s a good book). The Lord of the Rings, like you pointed out, is a pretty dense work without having to annotate it. For sure, making notes on Tolkien’s use of rhetorical devices, etc. would only make the book far more difficult to read.

    Overall, I think that you wrote your blog well, and I will reiterate that I really enjoyed reading it. I can always count on what you write to make me laugh.

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  2. Hello Michael. I really enjoyed this post. Oh my, haha it was hilarious. In fact, that is the one thing that I find that you do exceptionally well in this blog post. Your humor enlightens the serious mood and makes my reading experience a lot more pleasurable. I would encourage to continue to do that. One thing that I would consider working on though, when you tell us that you’re the second type of reader, I feel a little lost as to what you completely mean. Yes, Adler tells us what type of reader that is, but how does it relate to you? In what ways did you become the second type of reader? I think expanding on that topic would’ve made this blog post a little stronger. Overall, I enjoyed this post and laughed quite a bit whilst doing so.

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  3. Michael, I really appreciated this blog post and liked your writing style! Your use of humor and personality makes it very convincing. I liked that you used examples of books and examples from your own life. (I still think you need to at least watch the Lord of the Rings!) I also liked how you included the essay and then comparing yourself to it. One thing that could potentially be improved, is specificity and clarity. There were a few times where I got a little bit lost, i.e. the last sentence in paragraph one. I’m sure it makes sense in your mind, but could confuse others. One way to help avoid this problem in the future, is to have other people proof read it before you post it, just to make sure it clearly gets across your message. One other small thing is punctuation. There were a few times that commas were lacking, which made it a bit confusing. Other than that, it was a very well written blog!

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  4. So far, this is my favorite line in your whole blog: “Other people just don’t read books, but I won’t talk to those people, because chances are if they are not the kind of people reading books, they are not the kind of people who will read blogs.” Effortless, relevant, and so you. It delighted me.

    I had a little trouble following the thread of your first post (what the message really was — though I loved the “paperclip” conclusion), but otherwise I think you’ve done a great job of communicate significant ideas, while lightening your topics with honesty and humor. You have a great writing voice, Michael — keep honing it.

    On a minor note, just make sure you’re proofreading carefully. You have a few typos that managed to sneak past your defenses.

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