How did you learn to love reading books?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
binocular
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How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:18 am

Greetings.

I saw this thread on reading Desert Island books religious/secular/mixture -- and I wondered how you have learned to love reading books.

I actually studied literature in college, but I've never learned to love to read, no matter how many books I've read. For me, literature has always been a matter of trying to figure out what my teachers and other persons in positions of power wanted us to think about the book. And I'm not the only one with this experience. A college professor here conducted a survey among college students who major in literature about what they think about reading, majoring in literature and such. The students reponded mostly negatively, saying that it was drudgery, that all that mattered was figuring out what the teacher wants to hear and then pretending one thinks so too.


So how did you learn to love to read?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

Reductor
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Reductor » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:51 am

binocular wrote:Greetings.

I saw this thread on reading Desert Island books religious/secular/mixture -- and I wondered how you have learned to love reading books.

I actually studied literature in college, but I've never learned to love to read, no matter how many books I've read. For me, literature has always been a matter of trying to figure out what my teachers and other persons in positions of power wanted us to think about the book. And I'm not the only one with this experience. A college professor here conducted a survey among college students who major in literature about what they think about reading, majoring in literature and such. The students reponded mostly negatively, saying that it was drudgery, that all that mattered was figuring out what the teacher wants to hear and then pretending one thinks so too.


So how did you learn to love to read?
Why in the world are people studying literature if this is all they're trying to accomplish?

As for me, I don't love to read. I like to know things, and think reading is the best way to know things because it forces you to think pretty hard just to get the basic meaning, and it forces you to work still harder to synthesize a more complete meaning from all the things you've read and known through your life. Other mediums don't expect as much from a person as does a book.

binocular
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular » Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:32 am

Reductor wrote:Why in the world are people studying literature if this is all they're trying to accomplish?
Well, in hindsight I can say that I took all the hype about the joys of reading seriously (despite so many experiences to the contrary). And then I was left wondering and disappointed once more.
In hindsight, I think I was grossly naive. And not the only one. I had always been mesmerized by the idea of enjoying reading books, but never experienced that magic myself.

So I wonder how other people do it -- specifically, Buddhists, given the Buddhist caveats about art in general.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Kim OHara
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:45 am

I can't remember not being able to read, or learning to read, or not being hooked on reading. That means I'm vague about the 'how' but I'm not at all vague about the 'why': I loved stories - lots of stories - and reading books was my only way of getting all the stories I wanted, when I wanted them. I grew up on a farm, (just) before TV (but quite a long time before our house had a TV) and long before videos, digital media or the internet changed the world.
Children now have a much broader choice of sources and media for the stories, and I think that's mostly good, but the children I know now who like books, like them for rather different reasons than mine.

:reading:
Kim

Ruud
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Ruud » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:21 pm

I think it is not really something that's learned. Something resonates with you, or it doesn't. You can learn to see deeper layers or meanings, but the actual experience of enjoying a book, being caught by it, is something on a feeling level, not an intelectual level. Like any other form of art. For me, I am talking about fiction and non-fiction (well written, relevant to your interests, so not the manual of your TV). And some people do enjoy it more than others. Like Kim, since I was really small I read, and loved it. And it's true, sometimes you don't read something because it is so enjoyable, but because you want to know.

I also believe there is nothing wrong with not liking a specific book you are reading for enjoyment. Give it a good, serious go (say a hundred pages), and if it doesn't do anything, feel free to move on. I can imagine that when studying literature in college that's not possible, but I also don't think you are reading there for enjoyment. It's the work that has to be done, just like a biologist or economist would read their specific textbooks.

Lastly I think part of the problem are Must-Reads and Bestsellers. The fact that many people bought or like a book could be an indication but is in no way a guarantee you'll like a book. So no matter how great everyone says Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Tolkien, or the latest Harry Potter are, if you don't like it, you don't, so what.

Ok, let's get off my soapbox :soap: and back to peaceful reading :reading: (without a "how" to worry about)
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

chownah
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by chownah » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:35 pm

I am a slow reader. I have good comprehension if I pay attention while reading but I am slow. Thus I have never been much attracted to fiction or literature as it is too much work for me and consumes too much time for too little reward. I do like to read however but what I enjoy is learning stuff...I'm interested in just about everything and after having studied buddhism for awhile I have come to the conclusion that alot of my reading is just delighting in acquiring facts...attachment to facts....blah blah blah...etc etc etc....
Just about the only books I use now are an english dictionary (although now I mostly use the internet for this) a thai dictionary, a thai-english dictinary,an english-thai dictionary, and a book on analytical math and calculus. Sometimes I'll get a brochure (in thai) about growing some crop and then I torment my wife into helping me find out what I am wanting to know from it...maybe a set of instructions for a tool, vehicle, or piece of equipment...and occasionally a bit of information from a couple of engineering books I have...and that's about it. I don't even read billboards and signs since they are in thai and unless I'm interested I can just tune it out which is really nice because my attention does not get hijacked by signs and billboards.....they are mostly still ugly though....
I do read alot on the internet.....realllly alot.....
So I guess I love reading but in a way that is usually thought as information gathering and not usually thought of as entertaining....although I am certainly entertained by alot of it....
chownah

zan
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by zan » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:56 pm

binocular wrote:Greetings.

I saw this thread on reading Desert Island books religious/secular/mixture -- and I wondered how you have learned to love reading books.

I actually studied literature in college, but I've never learned to love to read, no matter how many books I've read. For me, literature has always been a matter of trying to figure out what my teachers and other persons in positions of power wanted us to think about the book. And I'm not the only one with this experience. A college professor here conducted a survey among college students who major in literature about what they think about reading, majoring in literature and such. The students reponded mostly negatively, saying that it was drudgery, that all that mattered was figuring out what the teacher wants to hear and then pretending one thinks so too.


So how did you learn to love to read?
One trick for me is that I read fiction as if it is actually happening. Forget the symbolism, the themes and all that and just read an adventure novel like you're living it or like you're reading a real life account :smile:. This makes reading so much fun! If you're reading about a sword fight but drudging through the process of pulling out how the swords represent the fuedal system of Europe and the swordsman represent religion and industrialization you will miss the sword fight!

Analyzing a book is like disecting a frog; you learn more about it, but you kill it in the process.
Never read anything I write as an accurate statement about anything whatsoever. Look to wiser ones than I. Look to wise texts. Look elsewhere. See my writings like word games, nothing more.

JohnK
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by JohnK » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:44 pm

I used to work for a book publisher in NYC (Doubleday/Dell) where I came into contact with an older gentleman "research supplier" who had conducted focus groups with readers for many, many years. I remember him saying that some people just seem to love the act of reading -- if there is nothing else around, they will read the label on the hot sauce bottle at the lunch counter. Interesting -- just anecdotal, but based on hours of contact with readers. Seems like I recall him saying: "These are your people!" I guess this makes sense from a sales and marketing perspective for a mass market publisher -- provide books for the segment that is almost addicted to the act -- quality is less important (as in the hot sauce label).
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

binocular
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by binocular » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:30 pm

Ruud wrote: if you don't like it, you don't, so what.
Where I come from, there is a social practice of intensely criticizing a person who does not like certain books; one also gets intensely criticized if one likes a book that others don't.
I would have more understanding for (literature) books and reading being a means of social power games, were it not that reading is so often advertised as enjoyable, beautiful, eye-opening, etc. and for being a "realm of freedom" (as one literature professor here called it). A realm of freedom, yeah right.

I suppose those who grew up in a culture where people don't read much, or where reading literature is not used (so much) as a means of social power games, have it easier to like reading.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

perkele
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by perkele » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:34 pm

Hello!

I don't remember what the first book was that I read. But my parents gave me and my three siblings (all born in relatively quick succession) books as birthday or Christmas presents as soon as we could read well enough. And they were for the most part quite thoughtful about it, considering what could be interesting and entertaining for each one of us and appropriate for our age. From easily digestible and readable children's stories to more "challenging" and enthrallng novels and whatever we developed a liking in, also more educational books (of which there were also always many available in various "for children" formats), or "profane" entertainment like comics, everything from Asterix over Disney and Marvel Comics to "the little Asshole" (a very politically incorrect and dirty German comic). And of course then we also had always enough to exchange among each other and share mutual interest in this or that particular novel franchise that we were at the moment excited about, and this kind of mutual encouragement and sharing our interests (amongst us siblings - not parents, they were out) definitely added to the fun.

I think the pinaccle of my reading enthusiasm I reached in my late teenage years when I read the "Lord of the Rings", another fantasy novel series called "Dragon Lance" (both of which my elder brother [as the first] and later my little sister were also avid fans of), then Harry Potter towards my beginning twenties, but since then I have not read too many books for pure entertainment. (Maybe because of some kind of "existential crisis" or what one may call it - which also led my interest towards reading the buddhist scriptures and wanting to understand their meaning).

Of course we also had to read books for school, often more classical stuff like Schiller or Goethe. Which was also entertaining for the most part when I did read it. But of course we always had to read it with the thought of being tested about it in mind, doing homework about it etc., which was a major turn-off.
I remember when I was 17 we had to read Lessing's "Nathan the Wise". I never did my homework at that time and paid no attention in class, spending all my German lessons immersed in drawing pictures, reading computer books or doing homework for other classes. The day before we were to have an exam about it I had not read a single page of the book. I just went to my brother and asked him what the story was about. He explained it to me in five minutes, and summarized what the most important philosophical points and similes were in the story. And I got an "A" for it, the best exam in my class, and was lauded by my teacher for my deep comprehension of the subject.
This lack of any correlation between the effort and interest put into reading and understanding something and the "test results" from school were more the norm than an aberration. So I can totally understand that such kind of initiation is not the most helpful for developing a liking and enjoyment in reading for pleasure.
I also lost most of my fascination with and enthusiasm for math in the course of studying it in university for too many years.

(As an aside on the "deserted island" topic: I don't know which books I would consider taking with me and what kind of interest in and use of such possessions I could have in that situation. Maybe some suttas would be helpful for "spiritual nourishment" in the long-run, although I'd perhaps doubt about their relevancy to a large extent in the face of total isolation. The "Tao-Te-King" (or however one should best spell it) is maybe also nice in that regard. For anyone still undecided about what to take with them before the impending departure I recommend all books by Arto Paasilinna, a finnish author who writes quite grotesque and fun-to-read adventure novels.

edited addition (after reading more of the thread): OR the "Dragon Lance" saga - mostly (or only) the "Chronicles" and the "Legends" [and maybe some other stories by the original authors Tracy Hickman an Margaret Weis are also good, but I have not read them; and there are a number of spin-offs by others which are not nearly as good by a wide margin (as far as I could try)], if it is about "never experienced that magic myself", because I have definitely never experienced more magic of being so deeply immersed in a fantasy world as with these books (although Tolkien's Lord of the Rings comes as a close second for me, and is surely superior in terms of artistic literary style [for lack of a better expression, not knowing the right technical jargon if there is any], but somehow I believe perhaps more appealing to male readers [although of course I cannot tell for sure - and not all women are equal, and not all men are equal anyway]).
There is one caveat, though: I found the first third or half of the first book rather boring, not of particular literary elegance (in the German translation) or ingenuity in its general setting, and only read on because my brother told me it will be great and I should not give up; it built up and developed slowly into a dramatic, thrilling and deeply absorbing story to get lost in while shutting off the real world around for hours at a time; I had the feeling that the authors were developing greater ingenuity and artistry, and probably more familiarity with their collaborative skills in the course of the story's development. Maybe that kind of fantasy story has more appeal to teenagers, and the kind of fascination can't be replicated by long grown-up adults, I don't know (and I could surely never read it with the same interest again, because I know the story now, of course). But one could give it a try, so I offer this as a recommendation and advertisement here. It is perhaps also somewhat "spiritually" inspiring in parts, uplifting as well as depressing, and causing questioning "why! why! oh why!", and Raistlin Majere is a very cool looking character. But better to just read the books and no spoilers on the internet.
Okay, enough advertisement, and I hope I will not cause anyone to feel like they have wasted time afterwards :rolleye: - not totally sure if it is worth the try, and of course tastes vary widely... :broke: )

Ruud
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Ruud » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:27 am

binocular wrote:
Ruud wrote: if you don't like it, you don't, so what.
Where I come from, there is a social practice of intensely criticizing a person who does not like certain books; one also gets intensely criticized if one likes a book that others don't.
I would have more understanding for (literature) books and reading being a means of social power games, were it not that reading is so often advertised as enjoyable, beautiful, eye-opening, etc. and for being a "realm of freedom" (as one literature professor here called it). A realm of freedom, yeah right.

I suppose those who grew up in a culture where people don't read much, or where reading literature is not used (so much) as a means of social power games, have it easier to like reading.
I understand the pressure, but I think that this is one of those situations where we ourselves control our dukkha. If we attach to what others think, we will be dragged around by it. Enjoying reading, since I was young I asked books for my birthday. And many times did I get questions like "What is that about?!" or "In what department do I even find that?" or "You really like that?". But over time I just learned that they have their hobbies and interests, and I have mine. Theirs might be more mainstream, but that doesn't make mine wrong. I don't even know whether I would be a Buddhist now, if not for my "uncommon" interests.
JohnK wrote: ... if there is nothing else around, they will read the label on the hot sauce bottle at the lunch counter...
:jumping: Just as I was told: as a small child I was distracted often by trying to read the milk carton during dinner. Apparently there are more of us...
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

alan
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by alan » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:45 am

You don't "learn' to love reading, you just have it.
Just like a musician loves to play, or an artist loves to create.
Life without books would be worthless for me. But then again, I can't abide small talk, and have no interest in most stuff that fills the minds of ordinary people.

chownah
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by chownah » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:53 am

zan wrote:
binocular wrote:Greetings.

I saw this thread on reading Desert Island books religious/secular/mixture -- and I wondered how you have learned to love reading books.

I actually studied literature in college, but I've never learned to love to read, no matter how many books I've read. For me, literature has always been a matter of trying to figure out what my teachers and other persons in positions of power wanted us to think about the book. And I'm not the only one with this experience. A college professor here conducted a survey among college students who major in literature about what they think about reading, majoring in literature and such. The students reponded mostly negatively, saying that it was drudgery, that all that mattered was figuring out what the teacher wants to hear and then pretending one thinks so too.


So how did you learn to love to read?
One trick for me is that I read fiction as if it is actually happening. Forget the symbolism, the themes and all that and just read an adventure novel like you're living it or like you're reading a real life account :smile:. This makes reading so much fun! If you're reading about a sword fight but drudging through the process of pulling out how the swords represent the fuedal system of Europe and the swordsman represent religion and industrialization you will miss the sword fight!

Analyzing a book is like disecting a frog; you learn more about it, but you kill it in the process.
Do you like on line gaming?
chownah

dharmacorps
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:14 am

This is a really good discussion. Thanks for starting it.

For me, I was raised by 2 English teachers who wisely, I think, encouraged me and my sister to read whatever I wanted. Fiction, non fiction, comic books, etc. I also saw my parents read both for business and pleasure. So modeling, encouragement, family culture, maybe even genetics has something to do with it who knows.

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Kim OHara
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Re: How did you learn to love reading books?

Post by Kim OHara » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:44 am

Ruud wrote:
JohnK wrote: ... if there is nothing else around, they will read the label on the hot sauce bottle at the lunch counter...
:jumping: Just as I was told: as a small child I was distracted often by trying to read the milk carton during dinner. Apparently there are more of us...
Me too!

:jumping:
Kim

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