I divide all readers into two classes: Those who read to remember and those who read to forget. –William Phelps
Do you agree? Disagree? I think I sometimes read to remember and sometimes read to forget. Sometimes I read for both reasons at the same time.
What are some of the reasons you read? What kinds of things do you read for each of those (or for other) reasons?
What are you reading this summer?
Here are some of the things on my reading list:
1. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. I’m reading this out loud at night with my kids. My daughter’s class read this book in school this year, watched the movie and went to see the theater production. She liked it so much she bought a copy for herself and asked if I’d read it to the whole family. I love, love, love the wordplay in this book.
2. The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker. I read these books at the recommendation of a friend, when another friend was trying to decide whether or not to get a restraining order against her husband who had become increasingly threatening to her. These books have a lot of repetition and there are points he belabors until his point is nearly lost. But, there are many nuggets and helpful thoughts in these books about being safe and fearing less by trusting our instinctive fears more.
3. The Body Remembers, by Babette Rothschild. An interesting read, especially alongside of de Becker’s books about learning to trust our fear. This book deals with trauma and particularly the physiology of post-traumatic stress. If de Becker is trying to help us learn to trust the warning signs the amygdala sends our way, Rothschild is helping me understand what happens when, for a variety of reasons, the amygdala’s thermostat gets stuck on open.
4. Peace Shall Destroy Many by Rudy Wiebe. Not super fascinating writing as far as novels go, this one took me a while to really get into. But the subject material is interesting to me–how complex and complicated our ideals can be in a fallen world. I didn’t come away with answers from this book, but perhaps I came away with better questions to ask, not just regarding war and peace, but other theological and practical tensions I try to navigate my way through in day-to-day life. It is a novel set in the context of a Mennonite community in Canada, during World War II.
5. Born Standing Up, Steve Martin’s autobiography. I’m not very far along in this and am not sure yet if it’s worth my time. But, I did find it interesting to read about his battle with anxiety and panic attacks, particularly in light of my previously mentioned current interest in both the gift and curse of fear.
Well, I’m racking my brain trying to think of anything lighthearted I’ve read recently. I’m sure there must have been something, but if so, it’s evading my memory at the moment.
Oh, yes, I did re-read another of my favorite kids’ chapter books ever–The End of the Beginning by Avi. I like to say this is my favorite philosophy book ever. Whether or not it fits that genre, it is as close as I’ll probably ever get. This book is such a quick and easy read. When I read it out loud with my children, in no time at all we’ve gone through three or four chapters. It gives me lots to laugh about on many levels, and lots to think about, too. I was trying to think how to summarize this book, but I’m terrible at summarizing and this one seems to defy description–at least description that does it justice.
Perhaps over the next few days, I’ll post selections from each of these books. And perhaps that will help me break out of the Blogging Doldrums I seem to have been in for the last month or so. Here’s a bit from The Phantom Tollbooth, in which Milo gets stuck in the Doldrums:
Milo quickly pulled the rule book from his pocket, opened to the page, and read, ‘Ordinance 175389-J: It shall be unlawful, illegal, and unethical to think, think of thinking, surmise, presume, reason, meditate, or speculate while in the Doldrums…’
‘That’s a ridiculous law,’ said Milo, quite indignantly. ‘Everybody thinks.’
‘We don’t,’ shouted the Lethargarians all at once.
‘And most of the time you don’t,’ said a yellow one sitting in a daffodil. ‘That’s why you’re here. You weren’t thinking, and you weren’t paying attention. People who don’t pay attention often get stuck in the Doldrums.’ And with that he toppled out of the flower and fell snoring into the grass.
[A little while later, Milo meets the watchdog, who asks:] ‘Why are you in the Doldrums anyway–don’t you have anywhere to go?
‘I was on my way to Dictionopolis when I got stuck here,’ explained Milo. ‘Can you help me?”
‘Help you! You must help yourself,’ the dog replied…’I suppose you know why you got stuck.’
‘I guess I just wasn’t thinking,’ said Milo.
‘PRECISELY,’ shouted the dog as his alarm went off again. ‘Now you know what you must do.’
‘I’m afraid I don’t,’ admitted Milo, feeling quite stupid.
‘Well,’ continued the watchdog impatiently, ‘since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking.’…
Milo began to think as hard as he could (which was very difficult, since he wasn’t used to it…. And, as he thought, the wheels began to turn.
‘We’re moving, we’re moving,’ he shouted happily.
‘Keep thinking,’ scolded the watchdog.
The little car started to faster and faster as Milo’s brain whirled with activity….and as they raced along the road Milo continued to think of all sorts of things; of the many detours and wrong turns that were so easy to take, of how fine it was to be moving along, and, most of all, of how much could be accomplished with just a little thought.”
I really would love to hear what you’re reading these days, what you like about what you’re reading or why you’re reading those particular things–to remember, to forget, to avoid, to learn, to laugh?