I was honored to be asked to lead one of the discussions, so I’ll be reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin in October. Why Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Mainly because I have been wanting to reread it, and this seemed like good time to do so. Discussing it with others who have read it is icing on the cake!
When I was growing up, I had heard of Uncle Tom, but had no interest in reading the book. I knew that slavery was wrong but didn’t want to read firsthand how awful it really was. I had heard how awful, in school, on various TV programs, etc., but a novel about it seemed like it would be morbid.
But one day when I was in my twenties or early thirties, my pastor mention in passing that Uncle Tom was the kind of Christian you’ve always wanted to be. Well, that piqued my interest, so I did read it some time thereafter and discovered he was right. I was saddened later to hear the name “Uncle Tom” used as an insult on one of the black comedies of the 80s, and I have heard it used that way since. In these day of standing up for one’s rights, meekness is not highly valued. Tom was meek, but he wasn’t weak and kowtowing.
So I’ll be looking forward to revisiting that story and seeing what my impressions are now a couple of decades later. I hope you’ll make plans to join me! And some of the other bloggers involved in the Book Club as well.
I’ve had a couple of questions or comments lately wondering how I find time to read and how I choose what to read. I answered those individuals, but thought I might answer those questions here as well.
How do I find time to read?
I feel exactly the same way. If I don’t have some time to read every day, I feel mentally and intellectually dry and dull. I read more some days than others, but I do try to read (from books, not just the computer) every day. Here’s where I usually fit in in:
1. I hope this isn’t crass or TMI, but honestly, a great deal of my reading is done in the bathroom. I used to have a link to a cute article on that, but apparently it has been taken down. In searching for it I did find Chamber Plots and Why Do Some People Read in the Bathroom amusing. It’s mainly a profitable way to spend the necessary time in there. More than one person referred to it as their Fortress of Solitude.
2. Any waiting time. If I am going to a doctor or dentist, a book is a must. Not only does it help pass the time in an edifying way, but it helps me combat nervousness by occupying my mind. Also, before the boys started driving on their own, I usually took a book with me when I picked them up from a youth activity or ball practice. That way if their event ran overtime, instead of stewing in impatience I looked on it as a few stolen moments to read.
3. Driving. Well, not while I’m driving. But if we’re going somewhere more than 20-30 minutes away, I bring something to read. I’m thankful I can do that: I know it makes some people carsick to read in the car.
4. Sunday nights. We’re not legalistic about it, but we try to make Sundays different and more restful than other days by not doing any work other than what it takes to get to and from church and meals on the table and then cleaned up. Sometimes we don’t really get to rest until after the evening services, but it’s nice to come home then and relax, knowing that I don’t have to toss some laundry in or whatever. Sometimes these days we’re Skyping with Jeremy or doing something with the kids or doing stuff on the computer on Sunday evenings, but otherwise, if there is time, I like to stretch out on the couch with a good book. Occasionally in the summertime I might do that in the evenings as well, if we’re up and there’s nothing on TV and everyone is otherwise occupied. But I rarely just sit down during the day with a book unless I’m in a part where I just can’t put it down or unless I am not feeling well.
5. Meals. Usually if I am home by myself, I am at the computer for breakfast and lunch. But sometimes when I have had enough of the computer, I’ll read a bit while eating.
6. In conjunction with devotions. If I am reading a Christian non-fiction book that is not a biography, this is when I’ll usually work it in. Just occasionally I will take a break from reading the Bible through and read a book like this in place of devotions, or I might read it after devotions. But it takes a different mindset for me to read non-fiction: I can’t just pick it up here and there and get as much out of it. I like to read it in chapters or at least in sections at a time.
And that’s about it, I think. I do manage to get through a number of books that way.
How do I choose what books to read?
Since starting to read blogs, I’ve kept a TBR (to be read) list on file so I can jot down recommendations from bloggers I’ve come to know and trust. Many of the blogs I read discuss books to some degree, and the monthly Nightstand posts and Katrina‘s Fall Into Reading and and Spring Reading Thing challenges provide more fodder for my list.
But even before using the Internet so much, my friends’ recommendations gave me lots to read. It just occurred to me while writing this that my friends in “real life” (not that you all aren’t real, of course ) don’t really discuss books that much any more. I wonder if it is because we’re spending more time on the Internet or what?
Of course, once I find an author I like, I’m alert for when they have a new book out, and I might try to backtrack and read their older books.
I don’t do this as much any more since my TBR list has gotten so long, but sometimes I’d peruse the shelves of book stores or libraries and pick up something that looked good. (I miss bookstores in malls!) The Christian book store here keeps a regular clearance table year round (whereas my former one in SC just had a huge after-Christmas clearance sale once a year), so if I am in there and have time, I’ll scout out the clearance sales.
Sometimes if I see something interesting in a store, I might wait and check the reviews on Amazon.com or Christianbook.com before buying.
Sometimes I am inspired to read a book when I’ve seen a film based on it.
Every once in a great while. I’ll go to Christianbook.com and click on Fiction and see what’s new.
Usually I read Christian fiction, Christian non-fiction, biographies, and classics, in more or less that order. Occasionally I’ll delve into something modern and not Christian, but it’s getting harder to do so without running into objectionable content. I saw some good reasons for reading non-Christian books, and I agree with them, but it’s hard to find the right balance.
And that, I think, is probably much more than you wanted to know about my reading habits.