2012 Reading Reading More Without Living Less

Reading More Without Living Less: Why Read?

September 30, 2012

For the month of October, I plan to do a series devoted to reading more without living less.

Before delving into how to read more, I’ll first share 1) why it’s important to read and 2) some common objections to reading.

The Importance of Reading: Why Read?

It is not so much a love of books that drives my reading, but my love for learning and the sense that I must ever push forward to grow in this area. (Though there is something to be said for curling up with a book on a rainy day.) Still, I cannot rely on mere passion to become an avid learner. Reading and setting goals for doing so is one of the most instrumental ways to broaden my horizons and learn more about our world (and as a Christian, see God’s truth reflected in numerous, sometimes unexpected, ways).

1. Reading can connect you with others, near and far, past and present.

Reading reminds us of the diversities and similarities of cultures and ages different than our own. A healthy diet of a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction can keep us reminded that the world does not revolve around us, our culture, our race, or our present age.

I have always loved learning about people and places and lots of other new things, but I am just now beginning to grasp what a helpful role reading can play in pursuing these interests.

2. Reading gives you something to talk about with others, particularly those who are readers.

And the more you read, the more likely you are to have read something that someone else has read. I’ve been surprised at how many conversations I’ve been able to strike up with perfect strangers about our reading interests. I’ve also walked into a store and left my headphones in while listening to audiobooks, and had good conversations start when people ask, “What are you listening to?” Traveling has always fascinated me, and many frequent travelers are also avid readers. Of course, with e-readers on the rise, it has become more difficult to start a conversation based on seeing the book cover of a fellow reader.

3. Reading expands your vocabulary and grasp on language, and can improve your writing.

One of the best ways to learn new words is through reading and seeing (or hearing, if you are reading via audiobooks) new words used properly.

4. Reading keeps your mind and critical thinking skills fresh.

Unless, of course, you only read romance novels.

5. Reading can change you as a person. 

It’s not just self-help books that change us, but a greater knowledge of and exposure to ideas, science, theology, and more, that over time transform us as we learn and grow.

As Mortimer Adler wrote, “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”

These are 5 great reasons, but there are countless more!

Objections to Reading

“I wasn’t taught to love reading.”

There’s a lot of talk these days about raising children who are readers and who love reading. For some, hearing such a sentiment can be disheartening when you realize your childhood didn’t instill such a love for reading yourself. I wasn’t brought up in household that instilled in me a “love for reading,” either. My father was very intelligent, but he was not an educated man (though my mother was). For a short time, he also fell prey to some confusing teachings of the fundamentalist church we were in during my early childhood. As a result, he told us we needed to stop reading so much during my younger years (7 or 8) and also accepted the beliefs of his spiritual superiors that classics such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings were wrong for us to read. I was a sensitive child, and remembered being very sad about his request for us to stop reading. (My mom did later let us watch BBC’s The Chronicles of Narnia while my dad was away with his shift-work. :)) I could go on about how this impacted my early years of reading, but suffice that anecdote to say that I can sympathize with those who have such objections. But, a love for reading can be instilled anytime in life. I’m sad I don’t have more reading under my belt, but I’m trying to make up for it now.

“I don’t have time to read.”

That might be true, but I doubt it is as true as most make it out to be. Most of us who have time to be reading this blog series or others like it do have time. We just have to figure out some ways to reschedule our time and work it in. That’s what this series is for! (So keep reading. :))

One reason I didn’t do much outside reading during my high school and college years was because I thought I didn’t have time for reading. Ironically, it was when I became “busier” that I began reading more. And incidentally, I feel like I’ve learned much more than I did during my undergraduate years. Now I have three small children who have no other caretakers besides my husband and myself, and am now reading more than ever before. (Of course, I could be much busier. We live a rather simple life in the way we choose to spend our spare time (most days I’m asking what spare time?!?), but my days are certainly busy and my hands and heart full.)

Setting Goals

I’ve found I need to set goals and use tools and techniques that help me read more. As good reading habits are created and tools appropriated, reading more becomes second nature. Tomorrow, I’ll explain more about setting goals for reading more (and reading better). It would be quite difficult to get reading done during this season of life if I didn’t set goals.

What about you? Do you read a lot? A little? Do you want to read more than you currently do?

Posts in this series:

  1. Why Read?
  2. Setting Reading Goals
  3. The Benefits of Reading More Than One Book at a Time 
  4. Benefiting from Reading in Different Formats
  5. How Cross-Pollination Enhances Reading

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  • AMY IN WANDERLAND September 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    YAY! I STRUGGLE WITH THIS. LOOK FORWARD TO FOLLOWING ALONG. 🙂

    • AMY IN WANDERLAND September 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      p.s. I totally thought you had text-transform turned on to all-caps, but it was my computer. So sorry–didn’t mean to yell….

      • Keren October 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm

        No worries! 😉 Glad to have you along.

  • Catherine @ A Spirited Mind October 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I read all the time in college (my reading load was usually around 1000 pages a week) but while it was worthy reading like Plato and Kant and Dostoevsky and so forth, I was often frustrated that I didn’t have time to read for myself. Then when I worked I read all day but it was professional reading and again not personal reading, but when I got home I didn’t have it in me to read for myself a lot. Now I love that I can read widely in a ton of different genres, plus work some and teach some and have family time. I really like that my balance of life now affords me the opportunity to read all sorts of things without sacrificing other ways of living life.

    Great post, and I’m looking forward to your series!

    • Keren October 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      I remember my younger sister reading Harry Potter during her exam week and thinking that was a foolish thing to do. Now, I actually realize that was probably a smart thing to do. 🙂

      I do think that “balance of life” as you put it does allow for more reading of “all sorts of things”

      You are a great inspiration to me in reading more and in a diversity of interests. 🙂

  • Melinda October 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    How fun! I love to read, and I am looking forward to following along with this series.

    • Keren October 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      That’s great, Melinda!

      I just checked out your series, too. I just had a homebirth for our third child about 4 months ago.

  • Ashley Wells October 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I will be following along!!! Great series!

    • Keren October 1, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      Thanks, Ashley. I’m going to be following yours, as well.

      We were pursuing foster care right before I found out I was pregnant with our now four-month-old, and still hope to be a part of foster care at some point.

  • Rachel October 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I’ll be following along for sure!

    I LOVE to read (and have since I was a little girl) but it seems that I’m always running out of time to do so (or I’m too tired at the end of the day!) =) As mom to three, it’s hard for me to fit in reading time as much as I would love to, so I’m looking forward to the tips you’ll be offering through your series.

    • Keren October 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks, Rachel. (I’m a mom of three, too, though I know you face unique challenges in your family dynamics. I’m looking forward to learning from your series this month, as well!)

  • Sheila @ The Deliberate Reader October 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Love this post, and I’m really looking forward to the series.

    I’ve always read a lot, although it did slow down when I was in college & grad school (too much required reading for me to do a lot of my own reading). So I guess it didn’t really slow down, it just wasn’t reading that I’d selected. 😉

    Right now I probably read the least I’ve ever read, and I’d love to read more. That’s really just me being greedy to be able to get through more books however; I think considering what else is going on in my life the amount I read is realistic.

    • Keren October 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks, Sheila. I’m sure I’ll get some book suggestions from you, too! 🙂

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  • Chelo October 2, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Love for learning=love for reading. Same here. I did not develop a love for both until after I became a Christian. I so look forward to reading more of this series, Keren!

  • Johanna Hanson October 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    So excited about this series, Keren!

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