When I was a teen, I did not read a lot of books. I resented the reading requirements in high school and do not recall enjoying more than the handful of novels I read for pleasure.
The reading load in college was overwhelming. I didn’t love most of it, but I loved what I read as an English minor.
After college, my reading tailed off for about 10 years. Then, I became addicted to books. Much happiness and learning ensued.
I’m not sure what compelled me to grab Michael Crichton’s book Disclosure off a supermarket shelf. I bought it and read it very quickly. I followed that by reading all of Crichton’s books (some of which you have no doubt heard of, such as Jurassic Park).
Reading led me to conversations with other people about books they were reading, such as Clive Cussler’s many books about the adventures of Dirk Pitt, as recommended by my brother-in-law, and then classics such as Edith Wharton’s novels.
One day when browsing books in a used book store, I happened upon David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49. I loved it, which led to a shift from fiction to non-fiction. I read all of Halberstam’s books, one of which, The Children, the amazing story of the role played by a group of young people in the civil rights movement (including now-legendary Congressman John Lewis), led me down a path of Martin Luther King biographies, Lyndon Johnson biographies, biographies of other U.S. presidents, and one of the best books I have ever read, No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
I wanted to continue to read fiction, and I did to some extent, but I kept finding nonfiction much more compelling. (Similarly, most of the best movies I have seen over the last 10 years have been true stories, or based on true stories.)
All in all, I read a huge number of books over the past 30 years, other than a couple of years beginning when Donald Trump became president.
At that time, I began reading more news than ever before to understand what was going on in the United States and the world; I started listening to more Podcasts; I started watching the humorous opening monologues from late-night talk shows; and I almost completely stopped reading books.
Now, I am happy to report, I am once again making time for books.
I have done so by making a conscious decision to read books in place of other activities, as I wrote about here.
None of the activities I gave up give me as much pleasure as I get from a wonderful book. (On that note, I have heard many people rave about the TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale. I stumbled upon a copy of the 1985 book the series is based on. It’s not the easiest read—almost cryptic—as one works to figure out what’s going on. But, I loved it.)
I rarely go to bookstores anymore, but when I was in Portland, Oregon in October, I went with friends to the legendary Powell’s bookstore. There, I spotted The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, which had just been released several weeks earlier. I bought it to begin reading on the flight home, and I loved it as well.
The other novel I loved last year was The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead, whose The Underground Railroad was a favorite of mine when it came out a couple of years ago.
The rest of the best books I read this past year were non-fiction. I listed them in this post on January 1, 2020.
Are you making time to read books? If so, what are some you would recommend? Please join the conversation with your comments…