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In a recent post to the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) website, an elementary school Reading teacher shared an exercise that she does with her students. The idea is for the students to write down 100 things about themselves as readers. The point of the activity is to help the students become aware of their own reading habits and tastes.
I decided to take up the challenge myself, and here are some of the items I came up with:
1. I tend to divide my reading time equally between fiction and non-fiction (particularly, history).
2. To me, literature and history go hand-in-hand. You can’t truly understand (or appreciate) one without the other.
3. Starting in Junior High, I began reading everything by J.R.R. Tolkien I could get my hands on. This served to introduce me to elements of the Arthurian legend, which consequently led me to scores of other old stories. Thus, I give Tolkien credit for my career choice. (I’m an English teacher.)
4. I don’t skip around much when I read. I tend to read every paragraph of the books I choose (even the boring parts). This slows me down a bit, but that’s okay. I can usually learn something from even the most tedious passages (such as how not to write something).
5. I don’t necessarily have to like the characters in a book to enjoy it, but I do have to at least find the characters interesting.
6. There are only a handful of books that I go back to and reread. Yet I have trouble getting rid of the others, even if I know I will probably never look at them again. (Maybe it’s an illness!)
7. I find that sometimes even the worst books will have a least a few redeeming qualities.
8. I don’t like it when someone tries to strong-arm me into reading a book. I’d rather the choice be entirely my own (even if the book turns out to be the same one that the person recommended). I’m sort of like a cat in this regard. It’s my time, damn it, and I’m going to read what I want to when I want to!
Obviously, my list hasn’t made it all the way to 100 yet, but I’m working on it. How about you? What are some things you could say about your own reading habits? How has your reading impacted your writing?