What do you, as a reader, learn when you read a book? Answering this question as a nonfiction reader is pretty simple, the reader learns about the subject matter of the book. If you read a book about constructing decks, you learn about deck construction. Reading a book about chickens, you discover interesting facts about poultry. Similarly, a biography tells one about the life and times of the person about whom the book is written.
But what about when you read fiction? I sometimes have trouble sleeping. The last time this happened, instead of reaching for my electronic tablet where I generally read news articles that, well, tend to elevate my blood pressure or depress me, I reached into a box of books and pulled out a paperback at random.
Timing, as they say, is all. I happened across a book I hadn’t read since I was in high school, “Glory Road” by Robert Heinlein. I dug in and after a while found myself lost in another time which relaxed me and eventually allowed me to turn off the light and head back to sleep. No blue light symptoms, if such a thing affects me, no high blood pressure and reduced anxiety about the world.
But what did I learn? Certainly the things I took away from this book were different upon this reading than when I read it in high school. After all, I am a different person than I was then. Heinlein is a good writer and I found things applicable to management, my personal exercise regime (or current lack thereof), interpersonal communications, marital success and general outlook upon humanity.
As they say, timing is all. I may not have been as receptive to this particular book or those particular messages at another time. Recently, I wrote about quitting a couple of books very early in because they didn’t suit my mood. These particular books were well written, but the subject matter was just too dark for how I was feeling at the time. I had picked them up because I go on author binges, reading several books of an author in a row. Sometimes I read something else in between each book, sometimes not.
As I grow older, I become more aware that I only have so many books left. Fortunately, I read quickly so I don’t feel a lot of pressure; but it does make me more selective and more willing to put a book down if I don’t like it or it doesn’t suit my tastes at the time. This realization also makes me less willing to reread books, especially if I have read them many times. But there are still favorite authors, many of whom have passed away and aren’t producing new works. I can’t resist picking up one of their books because I know they will fit my mood and transport me into the vision of their story.
I hope you have those kinds of authors yourself. If you want to discover more of them, come to your library where the staff will be happy to point you in the right directions.