Wisdom of Kammbia 3.17: Reading Rules


Do you have reading rules? 

Are there guidelines that will make you decide on what you are going to read?

I’ve noticed in the last few years that I have developed a certain pattern to my reading habits.

1) I Will Read From Any Genre: I have never understood folks who read from only one or two genres.  I only read Literary Fiction. I only read Mysteries. I only read Christian Fiction and so on.  I thought reading (like most of art) takes you to new places, different cultures, and the imaginative powers of that author’s mind.  The only criteria there should be: is it a good or bad novel.

My other hobby is listening to music.  I listen to good music from any genre.  Whether it’s Earth, Wind, & Fire or Sting or Van Morrison or Tito Puente or Miles Davis or Chris Tomlin or Israel & The New Breed. It is good music or not.  Heck, I just started listening to the Zac Brown Band this week after someone recommended that I should check them out.  Good music.

I have that same mentality when it comes to reading.  My bookshelf has Jorge Amado, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Philip K. Dick, Greg Bear, Paul Auster, Toni Morrison, Mark Helprin, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, Athol Dickson, John Grisham, P.D. James, & Stephen King all on the same shelf.

I believe the publishing industry while creating genres has been good for selling books, the downside it causes readers to stay in the neighborhood they are comfortable with and not venture into other neighborhoods.  I thought art is supposed to the ultimate barrier breaker and you can venture into other neighborhoods without fear or backlash.  Hmmmm…

2) I Must Read One Novel a Year Published Before 1950: I started this rule a few years when I read Madame Bovary by Flaubert.  And I have read David Copperfield by Dickens, Grapes of Wrath and The Pearl by Steinbeck, Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright, & Snow Country by Kawabata over the past few years.

Reading novels published prior to 1950 helps me get out of the mood of thinking about the world around me through a contemporary perspective. Also, it takes me into the past and makes me realize that human nature is basically the same.  It reminds of this verse of scripture: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, See, this is new? It has been already in the ages before us.”  {Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 ESV Bible}

3) I Don’t Read A Novel in Bed.  This is pretty simple.  It will put me to sleep.  I have to read at my desk.  I’ve heard so many people say they read at bedtime.  I don’t think that’s a good way to read.  Your mind and body are in a relaxed state and ready for sleep.  Reading requires concentration and engagement and the bedroom is not the place for those things.

So there are my reading rules.  What are yours?