22 February 2009

Sunday Salon: Is this why I'm having trouble finishing books?

I was checking out a review at The Last Book I Read in which the author linked to a NY Times article about losing our reading innocence. The author, Michelle Slatalla, posits that it is more difficult to abandon ourselves to a book once we become adults because we have become more sophisticated and know where the plot is going before the author takes us there.

I'm not sure that is the case with me. As regular readers know, I've been working my way through Lori Wick's catalog of Christian romances. You can see where those books are going before you even crack the cover, yet they have come closer to can't-put-it-down status than anything else I've read in the past six months. Her books are so accessible that I couldn't help being drawn in, and reading them made me almost feel like I was back in my reading heyday.

My problem is closer to the other excuse Slatalla mentioned in her article: the pressure of being an adult. Unless a book is an absolute page-turner, I always have that little voice in my head that tells me I should be doing housework. As a teenager, I could block out the world and give myself over to a book, no matter how predictable the plot was. Nowadays I either think I should be handling other responsibilities or at least reading more "important" literary works.

This loss of reading innocence is part of the reason why I am so up in arms about the Accelerated Reader program at my kids' schools. There is so much pressure to earn points that they don't have time for fun reading, and now is the time to do it. By the time they get to my age, they will have even less time for fun reading. I want my kids to enjoy the magic of getting lost in a book before the chance slips away.


MizB said...

Hey, Dani -- I just read your comment on my blog, and you said you're looking for books to deepen your Bible study. Have you ever participated in the weekly (Saturday) event, "Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays" over at My Friend Amy's Blog? There are often great suggestions there! :)

You could also visit my bookshelf at LibraryThing.com and search for the "Christian Living" tags... lots of stuff there. ;)


MizB said...

Sorry...here's a better link for my LibraryThing page (I've done the "search" for you... so this link should just take you to all of my Christian living titles). ;)

N.Vasillis said...

I agree. Childhood and adolescence is the time that kids become lifelong readers. . As an adult there is less time to read. There have been so many times I've turned away from reading to study or do housework. Reading should be fun for kids, not a punishment or based on a rewards system.

Lisa said...

I don't agree with the authors first reason about as an adult being too sophisticated to enjoy reading a book if I have an idea how its going to end. That doesn't apply to me at all. If I'm enjoying the writing and the story, I will finish the book always.

I, too feel so guilty when I rarely take a few hours from a day to read. I hear voices in my head saying 'you have laundry to fold' or 'you should be mopping the kitchen floor'. I'm trying not to let those voices ruin what little time I take for the one of the things in my life I love doing.

You're so right that kids should get to enjoy reading now because we all know how life gets in the way as we get older.

Great post! Enjoy your Sunday!

Dani in NC said...

Lisa, I don't think the author is saying that adults just abandon books if the plotline starts to sound familiar. I think what she is saying is that we don't enjoy the books in quite the same way. I guess it is like watching your favorite movie again. You don't totally give yourself over to the magic because you know what is going to happen.

Eva said...

I'm still young enough (22) to be able to completely lose myself in books; I hope it's always that way, but I'm sure once I have a family I'll feel more pressures!

I loved the AR program when I was in elementary school...if the school didn't have a quiz for a book, one of the parents could write it. So my mom was nice enough to do that pretty regularly! :)