reading

Learning to Love Reading

I haven’t always been a reader. I was never a “book worm” as a child, and in fact, even though I have a degree in English, I really did not cultivate a habit for reading until the end of my college education.

My husband was never a reader either. Now, since we’ve been married, he has become a rather prolific reader and thought I should write something on my blog about how both of us learned to love reading. Maybe it will help a few of you out there who want to be readers, but either don’t have time or inclination to pick up a book and jump in.

Probably the single most important thing I can offer is this: begin by reading what you are interested in. So often we hear about all of these amazing spiritual books and think we must begin reading here. This is a goal of sorts, but my experience is that you will get there eventually, but don’t necessarily start there. Well chosen fiction, or books about topics that you just kind of want to know more about are a place to begin.

What is now a love and commitment to reading began for me with Jane Eyre. I moved from one Bronte sister to the next and read Wuthering Heights. I began to make my way through every classic I could get my hands on. Contrary to popular belief these books are not hard to read, and they are classics for a reason. I also read the Anne of Green Gables series about once a year, as well as the Little House books, and my new light reading choice of late is the Mitford books.

My husband began his reading passion with historical fiction by Jeff Shaara, and Randy Alcorn’s fiction. He almost always chooses something connected to history. He went through his Theodore Roosevelt phase a few years back reading five biographies of his life. Right now he is reading Mayflower. Okay, so what floats one person’s boat may not float another’s. That’s the point: find what you like reading.

How does reading Anne of Green Gables or a biography of Theodore Roosevelt help in a cultivation of reading? The more you read, the faster you read. The more you read, the more adventurous you are in going to new territories to read. Jason and I both read fiction, biographies, non-fiction, and spiritual books. This is not meant to be a boast in our reading habits, it is just to say that even those of us who didn’t grow up as readers can cultivate a habit to read good books, you just may want to begin with reading what you enjoy rather than force yourself to use your reading time for something overtly spiritual.

That said, the most important reading I do outside of the Bible is spiritual reading. I love being exposed to writers who stretch my thinking about God. I love reading about ways to grow in Biblical Womanhood. I consider these books some of my best friends and counselors. So, though I recommend beginning with whatever you just simply enjoy…it is so valuable to persist until a habit for reading spiritual books is in place.

One last thing, you are probably thinking, when do you have time to read? Jason and I read before bed every night. It may be for an hour, or it may be for five minutes, but no matter what we read before we fall asleep. You would be amazed what even fifteen minutes per nght will accomplish. This is pretty much the only time I take for reading in the season I am in. If it is a spiritual book, I read it after my Bible reading in the morning (usually) and “chew” very small pieces at a time.

Later I may post a few suggestions for books that made me love reading. I’ll post some of Jason’s favorites as well.

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9 thoughts on “Learning to Love Reading

  1. This was nice to hear, Laurie. Chad and I both enjoy reading and since I have never been very good at having a regular quiet time or daily devotional, that is what I am currently working on — just reading the Bible! I am doing what some people have done and I am reading the Bible in One Year. I purchased the one year Bible from the Olive Branch and am loving it. I’ll have to blog about it, but it’s been a HUGE blessing to me and the daily readings have applied to what I have prayed for just minutes before I open to read. It’s amazing how God speaks to us.

  2. I think “mixing” it up (fiction, biographies, non-fiction, and spiritual books) is a great help, because sometimes one subject can just get stale. I usually read two books at a time for that reason. Like right now I’m reading John Piper and I can’t read him for a sustained about of time, it’s just too meaty for me! But reading that with some fiction keeps me interested and the books “fresh.”

    BTW, have you ever read C. Bronte’s “Villette”? Just wondering. I have it and keep thinking about it but never starting it.

    Beth, I did the Bible in a year reading too and benefited so much by it!

  3. Laurie, maybe you can help me understand the appeal of the “classics.” I majored in writing in college (meaning I had to take a few lit classes) and I still dislike most of the so-called “great books.” I am amazed that your love for reading started with Jane Eyre (which I did finally read two years ago, and actually really enjoyed) and Wuthering Heights (which I finished 50 or so pages of in high school before giving up, totally lost).

    If my memory serves me, you are one of the many people who listed “Anna Karenina” as one of the favorite books on Blogger profiles. I have been plodding through that since early June and although I am determined to finish, I can’t say it is going to get anywhere near my all-time favorites list.

    Often I wonder–what is the deal? Am I missing something, because by and large I just do not enjoy the books that the experts have declared “classic”!

    Anne of Green Gables…now THERE’S a classic. I need to revisit that series–have read them so many times I only have to skim 🙂 Anyway, this comment is now post-length so I’ll shut up now 🙂

  4. This is just for me, I’m sure! 🙂 My hubby is a veracious reader. I have never been a reader. I always say that I’m a “do-er” instead, but then there’s Danielle who seems to be both. 🙂 I do want/need to start reading as being a young mother has turned my mind to mush, and as I confessed to you recently, I’m getting sucked into reality TV world much too often.

    Have you found reading to be something that you can “veg” with just as easily as watching a movie or TV? I ask b/c that’s what I’m looking for right before I go to bed. Reading a spiritual book, other than the Evening portion of M & E, is just too much for my brain to absorb at the end of my long day. Knowing me as you do and knowing very well the season I’m in, what would you suggest I begin with? I think I would lean more towards biographies as I’m inclined to want to know about people’s lives and real stories. Any suggestions?

  5. Good tips, here, my friend. I’m not sure how I’d classify myself. Definitely always reading something, but since I’m slow, don’t know if counts as “voracious.” Like Amy, I majored in English and was forced to read a lot of so-called classics, but don’t always understand how they attained that status. Sure, intricate plots, lofty vocabulary, memorable characters, but I’ve found those in non-classics. Anyway, that doesn’t matter; I have found I like books (even “classics” now that I don’t HAVE to read them, unless I need to for high school homeschool). I shoot for a variety–magazines and homemaking books in the bathroom/library (where my overactive bladder keeps me and no one bothers me), spiritual books near my Bible, which I’ll read only after my Bible reading lest I get sucked away, quilting/sewing books on the nightstand, biographies on the shelf.

    I would suggest to Briana a missionary biography of Fanny Crosby or the life of Suzannah Wesley or, if you haven’t read it, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Joni is also a good one.

    For laugh-out-loud humor, try A Year in Provence, by Peter Mahle. Do not read Toujours Provence, the second book, as I found its language a bit offensive. It must be A Year in Provence. I read it more than 2 years ago and still , last night in bed thinking about one of the characters, chuckled again. Nothing spiritual in the book, but characters are memorable, setting beautiful, dialog is stinkin’ hilarious. The Mitford books are sweet, pure, simple, funny, gentle, but a few too many cliches to be called great writing, in my opinion.
    Looking forward to a list of more favorite reads.

  6. Zo, I noticed your subtle correction of my misspelling of “voracious”. I misspelled it b/c I don’t read! 🙂 Actually, I have read “The Hiding Place” and loved it. I am forever challenged by that book. I think biographies are the way to go for me. Thanks for the suggestions.

  7. Matt and I took “pleasure reading” books with us on vacation – what a blessing it was to just sit back and enjoy a good fiction story! It made me remember that I really am a book nerd at heart. I’ve been reading a series by Beverly Lewis – I appreciate “historical” fiction that’s more of a good story than anything else. Mind you, my husband and I differ on what constitutes historical fiction, so we differ on book preferences…but that’s why there are a lot of types of books!

  8. Bri, it was not meant to be a correction at all. In fact, I was wondering after I typed it if I was wrong, but my laziness made me apathetic (which, misspelled, is just pathetic, which I usually am also)soI didn’t look it up. I was actually trying to come up with a synonym for it, but your word choice was right on.

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