Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reading habits

This article from the NYTimes dealing with the Harry Potter books and reading is interesting because of the varied displayed approaches to reading and more importantly what is expected from the experience of reading. Growing up time for reading was never optional. If there was time it was spent reading. I'm now 24 and I still think that is true much to my wife's amusement and occasional chagrin. (I do believe this is due to my mother's influence, mainly because she read to me while I was still in the womb, at bedtime and lunchtimes before going to school and we still share book titles and thoughts on books.) The real point of this post is that the goal of reading is pure enjoyment; reading isn't meant to be easy. Yes, there are some lovely books that are meant to be enjoyed. I enjoy Harry Potter. Really. I also enjoy Joyce though I believe that enjoyment results from a much higher and more intense intellectual stimulation but I have to work hard to ejoy Joyce. Extra reading outside of the source material is required in order to gain the proper perspective to truly appreciate and ultimately enjoy the work. (This is also true in modern music; education about the piece and its composition is the key to understanding and possibly appreciation. At the very least understanding will garner a level of respect and a correct criticism based on the work's merits rather than just personal opinion) Gunter Grass is another writer that requires research from the reader to accurately and clearly read, appreciate, ponder, mull, discuss, debate and critique if only in one's head, the work at hand. Grass has the Germanic history at his fingertips and uses it fantastically and unless I do the extra work to understand his allusions, puns and meanings I miss the point of the work. The struggle, as it were, the fight through the book becomes the reward because knowledge is reaped. (Corny but true)

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