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On Promoting the Reading of Good Books April 26, 2010

Posted by michaelpawlus in Uncategorized.
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Semester is winding up.  So this blog is most likely going to undergo a period of neglect while I attend to the pile of imminently due coursework that can be ignored no longer.  The one good thing about coursework though is that when I actually do stop procrastinating and get started, it has some really enjoyable moments.  For example, I’m currently writing an essay on constructivist education theory and it includes reading actual books as opposed to a bevy of articles as is usually required.  It has been such a long while since I have been able to actually read good books and I wish deadlines were not looming as ominously as they are because I would really like to dive deeper into the subject and the great thing about good books is that they are built on top of good books and lead to further good books and it is the type of thing one can get easily lost in.

When I first decided to transition into librarianship, my hope was that I could get communities re-energized about the opportunities available at their local library and that I could help to steer people towards good books.  As a quick disclaimer, I am not one for eliminating popular fiction and only offering books widely deemed as high-quality.  I believe that all manner of reading material have their place but I also know how good it feels to really start to unpack a carefully constructed work.

I did not start life as someone who really enjoyed reading and even now I feel that I read much slower than other people but I have really come to value how important the mere act of reading good books is and I have also become a firm believer that anyone can do it.  I would say the primary catalyst for my belief in the positive effects of reading good books and the reason this remains one of my top priorities stems from a class I had at the tail-end of an otherwise underwhelming undergraduate program.  The class was taught by Dr. Corey Anton, who like me discovered reading later in life through the intervention of an inspirational teacher.  He wrote an article that to me is an instant classic and I refer to it often.  Even though so much is changing in the library world there are some values that I believe need to endure all transitions.  Providing a space for others to experience the power of really understanding a good book is one of them.

While I am sure that no one that reads this would argue against reading good books personally, it can sometimes be hard to build up a case for why it is important for others.  One the other hand, maybe you already have a list of reasons you use to encourage library readers to challenge themselves.  Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, well-prepared or in need of rationale, this article is for you.

As Dr. Anton would always stress at the end of every class: if you have finished the reading, re-read it.  I would say the same about this article.  Enjoy this one over and over.  It really is an article that keeps on giving and as such it is an appropriate placeholder while I put my own writing on hold until semester’s end.