Monday, March 7, 2011

The Reading Evangelist

After much hemming and hawing and hesitating, I've come to a conclusion. I believe that everyone should be a reader. (Please stay with me. This post has been a long time coming, and may end up being a bit wordy. Consider it the beginning of my manifesto.)

I don't just mean that everyone should be literate (although I absolutely believe that, that's just not what I'm talking about here), but that every person should be an active and frequent reader. I'm not sure what would be my definitions of active and frequent are yet, but I'm inclined to sat at least one book per month.

I've been coming toward this conclusion for a while now, but I've been hesitant to declare it out into the blogosphere for fear coming across as snobby or judgmental. Let me be clear. I don't believe that I (as an avid reader) am smarter or somehow superior to those who do not read frequently. I do believe, however, that my life has a richness and a depth to it that can only come from reading widely and deeply. And I wish that for others.

One of my greatest joys in life is reading a wonderful book, then handing it over to a friend or family member that I know it will speak to. Often, that person comes to mind partway through the book, and I can't wait to finish it so I can give it to her right away. Just tonight, as a couple of friends ate dinner at my apartment, I jumped up from the table several times to run to my bookshelves and locate the exact book that was relevant our topic of conversation. As I pressed a book into one of their hands, she exclaimed, "I haven't finished the book you gave me last week!" Okay, so it's true; I can be over zealous. But it's truly one of my most favorite things.

However, one of my least favorite things is when someone replies, "Oh, thanks, but I don't have time to read." Or "I don't really like to read." It's so disappointing! I know that the book will bring such beauty or insight into that person's life.

Up until recently (well, really more like until right now), I've responded apologetically, as if I've offended. But no more. While I don't mean to be a pest, I am no longer accepting, "I don't have time to read" as an excuse. I am not expecting others to read as much as I do (thought there are many who read many more books that I), or setting out to make them feel bad about their lack of reading. I have just decided that I am going to make it my personal mission to inspire others to become life-longer readers. And I'm going to need your help.

Look for many more posts on this topic. Over the next few months, I plan to transform this blog into a platform to spread the reading message. I will still provide book reviews and literary news items, but it will all be focused on encouraging, equipping, inspiring, and connecting readers, new and old. And since non-readers probably won't read a blog about books, I'll need your help to spread the word. I will be creating resources to help you go out and encourage your friends and families to become readers. I also want to start providing book "match-making" services so that I can virtually "press" a book into your hands as well.

I'm toying with the idea of calling myself a "Reading Evangelist". What do you think? Will you join me?


Kirsty said...

I totally agree - reading and literature has been one of the greatest and most constant joys of my life - it's opened my eyes and helped me to define myself. Couldn't do without it.

Caitlin said...


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really like what you said about reading helping you to define yourself. I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but you're right! It has definitely done that for me as well! One of the many benefits of a reading life!

Katie said...

I totally agree that everyone should be a reader, or at least a seeker of information perhaps? Like my husband doesn't sit down very often with a book (maybe once a year) but he's always reading articles or watching talks about topics that interest him. It's generally boring stuff like economics and politics but it's still engaging him.