In the heat of the summer there isn’t much one really feels motivated to do, except perhaps, lounge in the shade with a cool drink and a good book. Ever since I quit work I have been determined to get back into reading. My profession was devoted to getting kids hooked on reading and writing yet I rarely had time to do so myself. I want to make up for lost time. However, I also don’t want to simply indulge in frivolous entertainment reading and let my mind go to rot. My solution? That’s what I would like to share with you today just in case you’d like to try it out for your summer reading time.
The seed of my idea was planted back when I was a kid. My mom wanted to make sure that I was being exposed to a variety of genres so she required me to rotate the genres I read. I am glad she did so since it taught me discipline in reading. I have since tweaked the rotation using suggestions from various resources that explain the importance of cultivating a well-balanced mind.
1. Classic (Soup and Salad)
I find classics both fun and challenging. There is a wide selection in the classic department. They can be fiction or nonfiction; entertaining or informative. The common thread is that they were written in a different era and expose the reader to language formalities that we are probably not familiar with. This means the vocabulary may be rich and uncharted territory as well. When I read the classic I keep a highlighter, pencil, notepad, and dictionary handy. I highlight unusual words, look them up in the dictionary, and write down the definition on my notepad. This activity whets my appetite for further reading, just as soup and salad cause you to anticipate the next course on the menu.
2. (Auto)biography (Meat and Potatoes)
Classics and their abundant vocabulary might seem like the main course at mealtime, but because of their varied nature I placed them first on the menu. Instead, I think biographies should be the main focus of our reading. It is when reading someone else’s story that we can really learn from the past. We are being exposed to mentors, role models, heroes and history as we read these personal stories. They are an excellent reminder of the story we are writing, whether we consider ourselves writers or not. The last biography that I read, MIMOSA, truly touched me and inspired me. I am always curious about whose story I will be reading next.
3. Self-Improvement (Bread)
This book can actually be read at any time alongside another book. These books can be psychological in nature, such as a study done on girl aggression or a book about introverted personalities, a recipe book, a housecleaning guide, a fix-it book, a book of poetry, etc. It’s probably not one that you could read straight through, three chapters in a sitting, which is why it’s a great side. It introduces you to new thoughts and skills, but it is not a story that pulls you in and holds you.
4. Leisure Read (Dessert)
Irresistible! This category is for your relaxation reads. It is something you read for pure entertainment. These are the ones that will keep me up until midnight reading. If we were to only read these kinds of books our minds wouldn’t be expanding all that much, but they sure are fun when they are read. Personally, I like the ones that have some historical facts in them so that I am learning and having fun at the same time. I prefer to have my self-improvement book going at the same time as this one because dessert books don’t get my mind working too hard.
And then I start the cycle all over again. I am on my second round through the cycle at this point. I just started THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE and have my word research tools on the ready. 🙂 I do hope you find this helpful. Please tell me about your reading experiences this summer.