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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Reading List

I found myself rearranging my nightstand and bookshelf last night. Every once in a while, as my stacks of books pile up, I sort through them and decide which ones are my favorites that get to stay on the shelves; which ones are good enough to store (in our garage); and which ones I can live without and are donated to the public library.

In the last 6 months or so I’ve read a lot of books in my free time – not surprising, since I have always loved to read. But what was surprising is the kind of books I’ve been reading.

I guess my reading list falls into 2 general categories.
“FOR FUN” books: light-reading, usually fiction, page-turners, highly entertaining, NOT a lot of learning involved.
And “FOR LEARNING” books: Not light-reading, usually NOT fiction, NOT page-turners (at least not for me), Not highly entertaining, typically a lot of learning involved.

Here was my reading list (give or take a few books) for the last 6 months (give or take a few days):
“FOR FUN” Books:
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
Deception Point by Dan Brown
Schlott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schlott
Are You Afraid of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon
A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant
The Testament by John Grisham
The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby
When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops by George Carlin
Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
(Re-read) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
(Re-read) Double Fudge by Judy Blume
(Re-read) Everybody and A Kite by Ray Romano

“FOR LEARNING” Books:
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Crucial Conversations by Kerry, Pattersin, et al
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
Invitation to Lead by Paul Tokunaga

Well, it's not a bad list but it's certainly not an impressive one either. I mean, for every “FOR LEARNING” book I read, I read 4 “FOR FUN” books. (Ratio = 1:4). Not exactly intellectually stimulating material.

Back in Berkeley, my Turkish roommate who was learning English, asked me why I read, what she termed, “story books”. She said that if she had my grasp of the English language, she would read books that she could learn from and use to improve herself. I think I told her that I read “story books” to give me a break from all the learning we were doing in school.

But now that I am done with school and spend so much of my time working, keeping house, building a family, and living my life … where does that leave my intellectual growth? Yes, of course there is a great deal of learning that comes with one’s career, life, experiences, relationships, ... I’m not discounting that. And there is probably some type of learning from “FOR FUN” books too. But apart from that, I was not really expanding my knowledge nor was I really educating myself literary-wise.

Hmmm ...

As always my hubby was the sounding board for my insights and for my newly formed resolution. In order to progress my use of reading time and for my self-learning, logically I would have to improve the ratio of my “FOR LEARNING” books versus my “FOR FUN” books. Instead of 1:4, I would make an effort to change it to 1:2. (For every one “FOR LEARNING” book I read, I would read only 2 “FOR FUN” books).

My hubby then suggested that for optimal learning my ratio should actually be 1:1. I look at him like he’s crazy. 1:2 is a huge step! Besides, I rationalized that my 1:2 ratio makes sense since I take twice as long to finish a “FOR LEARNING” book anyway.

So, in keeping with my resolution, I’m now working on a list of books to get the next time we hit Barnes and Noble.

4 comments:

jol said...

You certainly did a lot of reading as I am sure you were not confine to books but read magazines and pamphlets as well. May I suggest that you include the monthly magazine "Money" in your readings for a housewife must know the rudiments of savings, finance and investments.

You can trace your exceptional writing skills to your wide readings. So keep reading whether for fun or for knowledge!

Consay said...

Check out the book "Against the Gods" by Peter L. Bernstein. I find this book highly educational and yet very interesting, making it quite fun to read.

Joanne said...

Dad, I do have copies of "Money" magazine from Auntie Lillian. I must admit though that reading about finance and investments is not exactly my cup of tea. But I'll certainly try to keep myself (somewhat) updated and informed. :)

Consay, thanks for the suggestion. I looked up the book on Amazon and it does seem interesting. I think I will pick up a copy this weekend. :)

kquill said...

That's an interesting list you got there. In my case, I don't label my book list. I just grab whatever looks interesting from the bookshelf. Lately, children's books seem to be more appealing to me. Maybe it's coz work is mentally draining already. I'd recommend the Chronicles of Narnia for this.