Reading, Rituals and Spices
Editorial by Rodger Bennett, vice president for academic achievement and student success, School of the Arts
I really never gave it much thought to my reading rituals until I was asked to write a little something about reading in support of the QEP. After a quick reflective survey of my reading habits, it struck me that I do have reading rituals. Not rituals that include the reading of the constant barrage of emails, texts, Facebook notifications, Linkedin and etc. That's not to say there isn't some interesting reading in those missives. But let's face it, it's mostly updates, action items, "HELP," and even the occasional letter from a long lost relative from some far off country telling me that I have five million dollars just waiting for me, and all I need to do is send them a credit card number.
I scour the Half-Price Books clearance shelves and stock up on those $3 hardbacks with stories of intrigue, family life, action, science and science fiction. Then every evening I crawl into bed and prop my book up against the wall, and I lose myself in some far off country watching my secret agent crawl behind enemy lines trying the save the world from impending doom. Or something like that. When I finish each book, I donate them to the public library where they sell them again; recycled reading.
Then on Sunday, I treat myself to the New York Times. Just the heft of this paper tells you that it's important reading, and there is a lot "fit to print" here. I carefully pull apart the sections and put them in the order by which they will be attacked over the next several days . . . sort of the all-day sucker approach to newspaper reading. And, of course, I have to tackle the crossword, which usually goes well into the week before I either give up or have successfully answered the majority of the clues.
I relate all this to say that reading for me is about increasing my vocabulary of life. As we increase our vocabulary of reading and the information and experience it brings to us, our view of the world and of ourselves change. When you increase your vocabulary, puns get "punnier," satire gets more poignant, movies get better, crossword puzzles get easier, and you may become more accepting and open minded. Obviously, this list can go on and on. I also think of vocabulary (and reading) as learning more about spices. The greater your spice vocabulary becomes the more exciting and flavorful your food will become. Well, maybe not for liver.