One of the most interesting people I met in 2012 was Dr. David Bowles*. He is a literature professor and is known for his strong opinions about books. I asked him recently if he would guest blog for me regarding reading goals for 2013. Please welcome Dr. Bowles.
Thank you Mrs. Grubb. As my spring semester classes do not start for a few more days, I found myself with a bit of extra time on my hands. My dear Laura has already heard my Boxing Day lecture too many times and it was her encouragement which led me to the decision to accept this assignment.
Mrs. Grubb originally instructed me to keep it under 500 words but she doesn’t know me as well as she thinks she does. Laura thinks that word limit is laughable too. I have always been a pushover for students who exceeded my word counts in assignments, provided the additional words were excellent and made interesting points. I’m sure Mrs. Grubb will agree with me that if I were to double or triple her suggestion, I can be forgiven if her readers will hear my words in their heads in a British accent.
I am to write about How To Meet Reading Goals In 2013. Personally I have always found that having a professor leaning over you (particularly if that professor was one’s father) was motivation enough to read. But sadly, most of the readers of this blog do not have that luxury. Most people’s reading goals must be self-propelled. I know, better than anyone perhaps, that one does not naturally gravitate toward self-discipline and routine. It is important to create habits, have people who love you hold you accountable, and then, of course, reward yourself with success.
It is also important to discover what type of books you love. My true love, Laura, has diverse tastes, which I fully appreciate. She has been a member of Goodreads for a year or so and said that it is immensely helpful in finding new titles to check out at her local library. While I applaud her efforts, I am personally skeptical of “social” media which takes time away from actual reading, this lovely blog notwithstanding.
Laura’s second book in her to be read pile is a fantasy called Dream Slayer.
But she has assured me that her first book of the new year is Les Miserables. It is probably ungallant of me to mention the reason why she chose it, but it is an interesting story, if for no other reason that I am learning more about her, she is learning more about me, and sadly, when we realize these differences we do not always handle them well.
Between Christmas and New Year’s, she and I decided to attend a film. She wanted to see Les Miserables. I agreed to this choice, since I naturally assumed that she had previously read the book. I mean, who hasn’t?
She admitted that she had not. I was aghast. Could it be that I was actually in love with a woman who had not read this classic? Her argument was that the film would whet her appetite for the story and her curiosity would be driven to read it, perhaps once my classes started in January and I became busier. This was a good argument, and it is usually my position to defer to the lady, but the idea could not be borne. How could she dream of seeing a film first, particularly when the novel is such an important one in Western literature? I could no longer agree to her choice on this principle. Apparently, my opinion was not expressed graciously enough and the next few exchanges between me and my true love were not indicative of the affection we have for each other. Forgive me if I do not go into detail.
I am sorry to say that it took far too long for me to realize that the gentlemanly thing to do would be to drop the subject, since neither of us could see the point of view of the other. It is also unfortunate that there wasn’t a florist shop within sight of the theatre, for if there was, I would have bought a bouquet, probably more than one, to restore a smile to Laura’s face.
Other, ahem, promises were made to each party’s satisfaction and we decided, instead, to see The Hobbit. This film, indeed, proved to be very entertaining, but I did find the deviations from the book a bit distracting. I almost explained this to Laura; how this clearly proved my point about Les Miserables. I chose, instead, to enjoy sitting in the dark next to her and keep my opinions to myself.
But, back to the original point, book choice. My Aunt Honoria is very fond of historical romance. Last year for her birthday, I bought her a Kindle and filled it with dozens of books of this genre. Then, I have to confess this: I took her to a doctor’s appointment (she would much rather I did this than Merle) and while I was waiting, I started reading The House of Closed Doors. I was so engrossed with it, I bought it myself and finished it in two days’ time. It was a well-written, excellent book and I recommend it. If you mention this to Aunt Honoria, however, I may deny it. She is under the impression that I either read literary classics, poetry, history, academic works or my students’ papers. I am far too vain to let her think otherwise.
My father reads history, literary classics and the occasional book on gardening, but for some explicable reason has picked up graphic novels. Merle, my family’s oldest friend, has always leaned toward fantasy. (He made me buy him a Kindle too, because apparently without it waiting on me would be completely intolerable.) Merle particularly likes young adult and middle grade books and he recently raved about the dragon series by Eisley Jacobs. This isn’t usually my cup of tea, but when he laughs out loud at these books, I can’t help but be intrigued.
I’m afraid I’ve rambled on a bit. The point I am trying to make is this: find the books that interest you to the most and keep one with you at all times. All goals can be reached if one works at them little by little. My gracious hostess, Mrs. Grubb, reads in ten minute increments. I find this bewildering, but if I had the domestic responsibilities that she did, I suppose I would do what I could to work around them. I have encouraged Laura to read fifty books in 2013 and she believes that it is an attainable goal. I will probably reward her diligence with jewelry.
To all of Mrs. Grubb’s readers, I wish a very Happy New Year. My 2013 appears to be a very happy year indeed and can only wish that everyone I meet is as happy as I am.
And I thank you, my dear hostess for this delightful opportunity to guest blog. I have only exceeded my word count by eight hundred words and I consider that a victory. And forgive me again for not submitting a photo of myself. I did not find a suitable one among the ones that Laura has taken. Perhaps in 2013, I will admit that I am terribly vain.
*Dr. Bowles finds it very amusing that he is considered in some circles to be fictional. The first few chapters of the story of his courtship with Laura can be read free here.