Thursday, July 5, 2012

On Reading: Montaigne #3

It's amazing to me how personal and unique the experience of reading really is. Reading can be a concert, a nuclear explosion, a torrid love affair, a journey to exotic locales (including outer/inner space), or even Marvin Gaye singing the Star Spangled Banner at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. But mostly, reading is an imagined conversation. A short text is like passing someone in a hallway and getting a snippet of information ("Hey, how ya doin'?" "Fine.") or entertainment ("Dude, you wouldn't believe what happened last night!"). A longer text can feel like a relationship; when I finish a really good book I feel a little wistful saying goodbye to characters who have managed to take on lives of their own and become "people" in my imagination. Experiencing all this without leaving my couch still surprises me with all sorts of thoughts and feelings I wouldn't have if I didn't read.

How do you feel about reading? [*Besides disliking school assignments. I think we can agree that none of us like being made to do anything-- I'm asking about the reading you've sought out on your own. And if you haven't, it's time to start. Email me at if you need help getting started.] How have your reading experiences (or lack of reading experiences) influenced the way you think and feel about reading? As you read Montaigne's ideas, think about how we can choose texts and design reading experiences this year that will make you a happier and more effective reader. I look forward to your comments.

montaigne3 reading


  1. My reading experiences have made me want to read more, though only of the same genre (usually fantasy) and has led me away from wanting to read school assigned books. Reading has also affected how I think in general. Since I started reading regularly, I've begun solving problems the way I think a character that I admire may go about solving that problem. I don't think there's a good way to design reading experiences when it comes to school work. I know that's not very helpful, but I haven't been able to come up with anything.

  2. I agree. For instance, I used to read Romances daily. Literally one or two books in a day. And I found myself at a lost when trying to read other books. I could not understand why these books did not intrigue me. Different genres, different authors, nothing worked. And then I also noticed my manorisms were changing. Because according to these books, if acted like the characters in most of these books, I would find the love of my life and have an amazing time doing it. Then I was told by someone special, that these books were making me set standards and not well for my mind. I agreed, because I knew that if I kept reading them my world would become a destructive one. One in which was based on a fictional point of view. So now here I sit, waiting for a good, pure ,books to appear that I love.

  3. Reading experiences from books I've sought on my own have been great. If I'm feeling like reading/experiencing something elegant and beautiful I can head over to my nifty little collection of books and pick a book by Fitzgerald or if I'm looking for a good laugh I can open up "I am America (and so can you!)" by Stephen Colbert. It's nice to have an on demand er... experience maker? Pardon my bad word choice, my point being if you have a good book that you take interest in it can change your entire mood. If you look at it simply, a book is made of just words, if you look a little more deeply you see the message in those words, if you take an interest in that message it speaks to you. So overall it's nice :)

  4. Over the past couple of years my reading experience has mostly consisted of cultural history. Be that it was shaped by my dad or mom, I am unsure of just yet, but as most of my friends know I read a lot to understand my Hawaiian heritage. During 8th grade I collected numerous novels spanning from Hawaiian folklore to realistic fiction based on the island of Moloka’i. Most people would find this strange; however this has continued to shape the understanding I have of my ancestry. Also a little fact… I re-read the first novel my mother and I bought that 8th grade summer every year.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! \Tom, I've solved the reading/school work problem-- once we get our feet wet in class you will have the chance to customize your reading so that you get the most out of it without spending valuable energy groaning about mandatory work that appears pointless. :) The AP reading list (which you can see here: includes a wide variety of authors, genres/styles and time periods. Can't wait to discuss your choices!

    \Mackenzie, have you read SHOAL OF TIME by Gavan Davis?