The month of December is a terrific time to review “bests” and “worsts.” It takes time and some discipline to systematically and thoughtfully step back from the business of the holidays and remember what in life is worth holding onto or letting go of. It is a nice way to bring closure to another year.
As I’ve begun capping off my year this way, my “best” and “worst” lists made me wonder, “What are the best and worst things about reading books?” Here is what I’ve come up with. See if you agree.
Reading is at its best when it is leisurely, enjoyable and supplied by readily accessible, self-selected books.
Reading is at its worst, when the experience is forced into a time slot or the book is assigned by someone else.
The best time to stop reading a book is when we get too sleepy or are at the end of a chapter and feel like that much was plenty for today.
The worst time to stop reading a book is when someone else calls “lights out!” from the other room or “time’s up” or when a bell rings to signal the end of my agenda and the higher importance of someone else’s.
The worst experience while reading is when time drags on because we feel unchallenged or like we must get all the words right while not much caring about the book’s characters or content.
The best way to learn the value of books is by watching someone we love and admire immersed deeply in reading one of their own choosing, how they hold it, share it, mark their spot in it and store it carefully between reads.
The worst way to learn the value of books is by being forced to read—even if the mandated book is one that has a reputation of being really terrific yet is a bad fit for us individually.
The best way to end reading a book is when it makes us sad that our time with its fascinating characters and its engaging plot are over.
The worst way to end reading a book is by losing it. (Have you ever been almost finished with a great read and then left it on a train or in a restaurant you will never visit again?)
The bottom line and top of the “best” list is this: Reading is best when we voluntarily and with glee give ourselves over to a book’s author and step into the world she has created for us. It is like a long-distance handshake or maybe even a hug. There is nothing better than when a book touches us in some way with its word pictures and inspiring content, shaping our lives so that we end up eager to find the next best read.