Early in my most recent college career, I had a professor who insisted on making reading an interactive sport.
“Always read with a pen in hand.”
Nice idea, but I was borne of an age and with a family that impressed on me the sanctity of the printed word. Books were to be cherished. Like library books, treat all books like library books. Don’t dog-ear, mark, or otherwise harm the hallowed printed form.
Don’t even crack the spine.
Between that professor’s tutelage, and my own, wandering ways, I learned. I learned differently.
I learn differently.
The basic precept, not so generally stated, was that good literature, and that could be anything, from serial TV to film to tabloid journalism and eventually winding up back at the novel form, the basic tenet is to interact with the material.
Story is story, no matter how the tale is told.
If an author’s stance posed a question, note that immediately, then answer the question, or digging for an answer, or remember to reflect back. Makes for a great course of study, and potentially turns every novel into an interactive interrogatory experience. For me, that makes books experiential. Useless sidebar, my favorite web tag line I used? “Experimental and experiential: kramerwetzel.com.”
So I read a real book with a pencil, usually, and sticky notes. Mostly just a pencil. Pen, if I must. Better yet, I’ve gotten in the habit of whatever I’m reading, I’ll make notes in the current blog–word processor software. Faster, easier for me.
The challenge with this as a learned reading habit is that I question, comment, and occasionally research as I read.
But with this style of reading, there is always a problem. It creates more content. My current habit, either when I buy a book, or check one out of the library, my current style is to immediately open up a document with the book’s title, and add an Amazon/iTunes link. I tend to do the same with music. The purpose of the document, in whatever format, is to have a notepad available for questions, answers, laudatory commentary, or critiques.
Certain authors inspire a quiet awe, not much commentary, other than, “Good book,” or “fun read.”
Other writers, I get so caught up in the story, I forget to make notes, unless I go back and reread the piece.
This kind of reading habit tends to keep my mind sharper, or so I would like to think.
Amusing, too, when I display my own ignorance.
It happens. Makes it all worthwhile.