Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Reading Project: building a social library

Sometimes I miss the days when learning wasn't optional. It seems like it's too easy to shut off my mind and go through the motions of adult life without ever introducing new thoughts. From where I'm sitting, thinking critically is a luxury of those who have the time.

It's been five years since I graduated from Eastern. Five years since I applied my mental energy toward something other than day-to-day actions and the occasional amusement. I've learned to do a lot of things with my hands; sewing, painting, building. I've pushed my body farther than I ever thought possible still with no obvious limit to what I can do.

But mentally, I'm dead in the water. As of mid-May, 2010, I hadn't read a book in over a year. I made this horrifying discovery while sitting in a restaurant with friends after biking. They were discussing their favorite authors and what they had read recently, and I had nothing to offer.

Has anyone else out there gotten dumber? I know I have.

Since graduation, the things I've learned have been gradually slipping away. Associations that used to come rabbit-quick now seem to crawl into my brain at a snails pace. I can't always remember the correct usage of a word or phrase. If I do find the right words, I might mispronounce them, and I certainly can't spell them. Maybe I'm the only one who notices that my thoughts don't line up and march the way they should. Perhaps you get the gist of what I'm saying and that's good enough for you. But it's not good enough for me.

My project for the summer is reading. And I'm not talking about reading more trash magazines or taking more online quizzes, I'm talking about reading real books and deriving real enjoyment from the experience. I want to consume the printed page with the same voracity that I apply to a run. Not just the books I want to read, because that would be too easy, but any books that come my way.

The idea here is to expand my world. To have something in my hands that I would not have reached for.

This is where I need your help: I need recommendations from everyone on what I should read this summer. Don't worry about trying to pick something you think I'll like, just tell me what you like. It doesn't have to be something you've read recently and it certainly doesn't have to be a classic. If you give me a book, I will read it.

So drop me an email, comment on this post, or leave a comment on Facebook and tell me what you'd recommend.

Here's what I've read since May 17th, along with the name of the chooser:
  • Memoirs of a Geisha ~ Cindy and Liz
  • The Sex Lives of Cannibals ~ Cindy
  • Candy Girl ~ Cindy
  • Ender's Game ~ Erin
  • Jitterbug Perfume ~ Cindy


Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with you. I do feel like I'm not functioning quite the same. It's like in the last 2 years it's become harder for me to write without creating huge words cause I keep writing words together like "thefrogate." Or in general I can't focus (but I guess that's a different subject). Everyday life seems to have made my brain very dull. At work I'm just a cuting, pasting, nudging, linking design machine. My goal is to also read more, and do more projects outside of work to get my creative juices flowing again. ^_~

Anonymous said...

Snowflower and the Secret Fan

~ selina ~ said...

Quick update on the Summer Reading Project. Things are going well.

I have added Water for Elephants, Potshot, and Born to Run to my "finished" list and am now reading The Time Traveler's Wife.

We've created a Facebook book group called "Bibliophilia is for Lovers."

Anyone can join and post their recommendations of books for others to read.