Whenever I’m immersed in a book I find myself thinking about the author’s ideas pretty much all the time. If it’s a work of fiction, then I think about the characters and their motivation, appearance, and surroundings. I wonder what the author is trying to teach the reader through the actions and speech of the protagonist and his or her cast of characters.
All that to say or ask: What do people who don’t read think about??? The weather? What they’re having for dinner? I think about those things too, but the ideas I get from reading top any and everything I could come up with on my own, not because I’m dull but because what goes into one’s mind is what she has to work with, and if nothing goes in, well, you know what I’m saying.
I recently overheard a conversation in which someone was saying that she hadn’t read but one book all the way through since graduating from high school and had started but not finished another. What was especially interesting about this exchange is that the nonreader was belligerently blasting the other person who was trying to encourage her to read more.
“Why should I read just to have something to think about? I think all the time!” she said.
“Well, one of the books I just finished taught me about courage, about persevering against all odds,” her friend replied.
“B-O-R-I-N-G. Besides I don’t need a book to tell me that courage is important.”
“I know, I know. It’s just that now whenever I think about giving up on something I think about Deo who had to hide between corpses to stay alive during the genocide that took place in Burundi and Rwanda, and I realize what a wimp I am. His strong will helps me be strong.”
“Sounds depressing to me,” her nonreader friend replied.
“Yeah, it was depressing in places. But now I know more about those countries and the people who live there.”
“But why would you want to know those things?”
I piped up about that time and said that I too had read the book, Strength in What Remains, and that it had enlarged my world view and gotten me out of my safe little comfort zone.
“I don’t want to think about things like that. I have enough on my mind. I think all the time.”
I gave up the fight (that’s what it had turned into) and asked if anyone had made New Year’s resolutions. This morning I saw some statistics on Facebook that said 33 percent of people who graduate from high school never read another book the rest of their lives and that 42 percent of college grads never read another book after college. I’m not sure how accurate those stats are, but it was sad to read them.
This post is already too long, but I just have to say that books have enriched my life in more ways that I can count. What about you? Is there one book in particular that has influenced your thinking, feeling, or acting?