Reflections on Reading and Living

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I've recently reconnected with a long-time friend who writes a very interesting process-and-business oriented blog that offers some interesting advice for people who do too much.

Some things I have read there gave me pause. Actually, a great many things have given me pause and caused me to examine what I am reading and why and what the place of reading is in my life. Reading is not life. But for some of us reading is more than a leisure-time activity. Reading is real work--it is part of the formative work that goes into writing and it is a form of shifting from the day-job mind into the relaxation/replenishing mind. The creative required by reading is of a different type than that exercised during a day of putting out fires.

What I've discovered is that I receive less and less pleasure from things that do not present some form of challenge. I've spent a lifetime in "leisure" reading--absorbing all sorts of fun things that almost immediately slip out of my head and make no real difference in my understanding of the One Thing Necessary (soon to be trademarked).

Add to that another discovery--what I read in college as an obligation or a class-fulfillment requirement can be read both for enjoyment and for the very different challenge these works propose to people who have had a bit more life experience. Young and callow moving purposefully toward a goal can only make so much sense of some of the great works of literature, which, I've become convinced required at a minimum a deeply attentive read, and more than likely a slow-read. Speed-reading Ulysses can give you a blurred view of a distant and weird Dublin. Slow reading reveals the texture, richness, and care of composition--they show a deeply human and humane work which exposes us all for our strengths and our foibles.

I'm sure there are some rapid readers who can absorb everything in their flight through works of literature. But, I am not among them. And so, now I find myself focused on these works--works that really teach us how to be human and how to be alive. More on this later.

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I receive less and less pleasure from things that do not present some form of challenge

I'm guessing this means no more Dan Brown for you. :-)

Dear TSO,

Do you mean to tell me that the exaltation of a class of highly glorified Anti-Catholics isn't a worthwhile cause or challenge?

If so, I couldn't agree more?





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 23, 2009 9:44 AM.

Who is the Gored Steer was the previous entry in this blog.

The Sun Also Rises--Ernest Hemingway is the next entry in this blog.

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