I have been a reader all my life.
Not so long ago, I began whittling down my book collection. Why? Because as much as I love owning lots of books — they’re a pain to move. Also, I tend — with a few exceptions — not to reread books. Particularly fiction.
My sister and my father are both equally avid readers. My wife loves to read, too. However, my mom is not a reader. Nor is my stepdad. They like magazines and some online stuff — but they’re not book readers.
I have been striving to read more lately. I don’t believe that I was reading enough. So, every morning I am getting up and reading a chapter of fiction (sci-fi, currently) and a chapter in a nonfiction book.
Previously, I did most of my book reading at night before bed. But I was making more excuses than spending nights reading overall. When I shifted to getting out of bed and reading while my coffee brews — this has been far more consistent.
Reading is amazing for all it does for the mind. It opens ideas both creatively and psychologically. There is, to my way of thinking, a value in both fiction and nonfiction books.
Reading fiction books
I love a good, interesting story.
For the most part, I have read more fantasy than sci-fi over the years. I have worked my way through David Eddings, George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, and many others.
Swords and sorcery, dragons, pirates, and that ilk. Because of reading such things, twenty-nine years ago I joined a medieval reenactment society to learn to fence. I love and practice rapier combat (and variations on it) to this day (save the present, unfortunate pandemic hiatus).
I’ve also read a fair share of sci-fi. Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, Andy Weir, and too many Star Wars Extended Universe (now Legends) books. I love the notion of lying through space, discovering and/or fighting aliens, faster-than-light travel, and so on.
There are some subgenres of this ilk I have enjoyed, too. The Steampunk Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris was a fun read.
I love reading this stuff. It opened my imagination in my childhood — which never let go. A lot of my inspiration for writing fiction came from these authors.
Another fiction author I thoroughly enjoy — who doesn’t fit these categories — is Paulo Coelho. He is near the top of the list of authors I would most desire to meet in person (alongside Neil Gaiman, honestly).
Fiction is all about escapism. Getting into a new time, place, and experience imaginatively. We are such limitless beings that this expression of that is worthwhile for all kinds of reasons. Fictional items of the past are a reality today — so who knows what’s possible?
Reading nonfiction books
Nonfiction, for me, is about personal development, growth, figuring out my life, and being more conscious and mindful in the now.
I have read a LOT of this stull. Some are self-help oriented, some wealth oriented, some for productivity. This has included Wallace Wattles, Stephen R. Covey, Tony Robbins, Eckart Tolle, Jen Sincero, Don Jose and Don Miguel Ruiz, Shunryu Suzuki, James Allen, and numerous others.
While some of these are more allegorical than literal, some have been deeply useful. Each has offered information that I have or haven’t used to improve upon my life experience.
This isn’t the only nonfiction I read. I’ve read some humor works, biographies and autobiographies, instructional, and historical works, too.
Nonfiction comes in as wide a variety of genres and subgenres as fiction. Both can serve a similar purpose — Stimulating the mind and expanding one’s knowledge base.
That’s why I read books as much as I do — and feel it’s important to take the time to read more.
Listening to audiobooks
I have spent a lot of time taking road trips. I love to drive. There is something deeply satisfying about cruising along a highway at 70+ mph and listening to great music, a podcast, or an audiobook.
There are some excellent readers out there. My wife and I have gone through the whole of The Dresden Files series in part because James Marsters is an outstanding narrator (and the overall concept is fun). We’ve also worked our way through Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series and The Laundry Files series by Charles Stross.
Great narrators are important to audiobooks. Wil Wheaton does Ready Play One great justice, and the same goes for Rosario Dawson for Artemis. And I cannot tell you how many times I have listened and relistened to Jeremy Irons read The Alchemist.
I have also listened to a wide range of self-help/personal development/life-coaching books via audiobook. Hearing it can really impact its ability to stick in the mind.
Does listening to an audiobook count as reading it? I say yes. Because you are still taking the time — you’re just having someone else read the words to you. The impact and impression it makes are the same.
I know some people who just can’t do audiobooks. That’s fine too. It all is about reading books.
Reading other materials
I am not entirely poo-pooing other reading. Daily, I read through blogs on Medium (because as a writer on Medium I enjoy supporting other writers by reading their stuff). It used to be that I had a couple of different magazine subscriptions. And nowadays, reading headlines online tends to be more than enough when it comes to the news.
However, there is a depth and commitment involved in reading books that doesn’t come of reading other things. For me, a perfect lazy afternoon might be a hammock, a cold drink, and a good book. Even on an e-reader, there is something about the tactile sense of a book that other mediums lack.
Books also are open to more depth of exploration on a given topic. I can write over and over again about various aspects of mindfulness and conscious reality creation. Or I can put a lot of it into a singular book for someone to download or buy a paperback copy to read.
While I understand that reading books, to some people, is an undesirable chore — I still expound upon its value. Yes, as a writer I am biased — but I think reading books makes people smarter, better able to deal with complicated and complex situations, and more aware of a vast, wide world.
It never ceases to amaze me how powerful reading is.
Thank you for reading! I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.
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