Thursday, March 29, 2012

Got Books? How Do You Read?

Did you know reading is a healthy and entertaining way to exercise the brain? Of course, you did. But did you ever take a close look at your reading habits? How you read, what you read, why you read … interesting questions I decided to explore recently. My findings surprised me.

I’ve always loved to read. My parents made sure there were always fascinating books in the house and read them to me until I was able to read them myself. Bible stories, Aesop’s Fables and Hans Christian Anderson were some of the first ones to stir my imagination. I gradually advanced to Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. As we moved around during my daddy’s time in the Army during WWII, Mama always made sure I had a library card in each new town. Making new friends in new schools wasn’t easy for me. Books became my new BFFs.

Later on, Mrs. Smith, my wonderful English and Literature teacher in the small Texas high school I attended, even made reading Beowulf an adventure. (Well, I might be exaggerating a little there.) She taught me to stretch my imagination and fueled my desire to write my own stories. I read books about faraway lands and thus began my desire to travel. I was in such a hurry to read everything I could, I didn’t always remember everything. I read fast, skimming over parts in my rush to finish and move on to the next book. So many books, so little time, right?

Flash forward and I’m a young, stay-at-home mom fifteen hundred miles from my hometown. A shy Texan in Yankeeland, I talked differently, and I was homesick. For a while, there was no time for the luxury of reading. Then I began reading to my little ones at bed-time, and eventually found time to read for my own pleasure again. I started reading slower, opening my mind and absorbing each captivating word. I was surprised at how much I’d been missing by rushing from Page One to The End. I discovered if I took time to become a part of the community or event I was reading about, I made true friends with the characters. I cried when they hurt, laughed at their antics, worried when I knew they needed help, scolded when they made mistakes, forgave them when they said “I’m sorry” – in other words, I became part of their lives. And I realized that I would need become a very real part of my own stories in order for my readers to keep turning the pages.

I learned to read at an early age, but it took years for me to understand HOW to read. Big difference. My reading habits are my own and I’ve come to accept them – plenty of quiet time, no distractions, an open mind. What are your reading habits? How do you read? Fast or slow? Quiet or white noise? Inquiring minds want to know. Let’s exercise our brains!

See you next time at my back fence. Y’all come back now, ya’ hear?



  1. What an interesting post! Like you, books were always my best friend. I was a very shy child/teen (hard to believe, huh?). I am not a slow reader--too many books, too little time. If I really like the book, I'll read it again and take my time to savor it.

  2. Hey there, Diane. Thanks for commenting. I've learned to read slower, but I do re-read some books that are so exciting I just have to rush through them to find out what happens. You know how that is. If I could write as fast as I read, I'd have lots more books written. Hmmm. Must try less reading and more writing.