When I was a little girl, I loved going to the library in the summertime. (I actually loved going anytime, but I especially loved it in the summertime when I had days and days of uninterrupted hours ahead of me for reading.) My mom would take my sister and I every week, and we'd peruse the stacks . . . each of us piling back into the car with the maximum number of books we were allowed to check out.
That stack of books was like heaven to me! So many possibilities. . .
I still love that summer-reading-going-to-the-library feeling. I read differently in the summer than I do during the rest of the year. Generally, I read lighter fare during the summer (not so much knife-twisting in the heart). More mysteries. Memoirs and "beach reads." Usually some big ol' brick of a storytelling epic. I love it . . . the freedom of just reading whatever happens to strike my fancy at the moment. (That's actually how I read, generally, all the time. But in the summer it feels different . . . MORE somehow.)
I know many of you look forward to Mary's fun and most excellent Summer Book Bingo challenge each year. Although I don't participate in Book Bingo myself, I love to watch from the sidelines -- seeing you put together your cards, plan out your summer reading, and then calling BINGO all summer long. I prefer to think of myself as . . . your cheerleader . . . as you fill up your Bingo cards. (You can read all about Mary's bingo challenge - and print out your card - on Mary's blog here.) Mary has a great set of simple rules for Book Bingo, basically reminding everyone that it's just for fun -- that participants get to choose their own level of "challenge" and determine the relevance of book-to-square, for example. She has developed a Bingo card generator filled with 88 different book categories -- so there really is something for everyone in these cards. Do go check it out! It's fun to participate -- AND it's fun to watch from the sidelines, too.
In the spirit of summer reading, coupled with my post from yesterday about arbitrary rules, I thought it might very . . . cheerleader-y . . . for me to challenge you to think about your own arbitrary rules for reading before you launch into summer reading or the Book Bingo challenge. (Because reading . . . is an area FRAUGHT with arbitrary rules.) For example, I don't know how many people have looked at me with horror . . . when they find out I sometimes read the endings first, before finishing a book. But . . . it's really just an arbitrary rule that you must read books in a linear fashion, with never-any-peeking at the ending. There are no Book Police! Unless we're reading for some formal or work-related purpose, we're reading for pleasure. For the joy in the words or the story or the characters. Other than trying to fill your Bingo card, reading is not a competition or a contest. We're just readers. Reading for enjoyment.
So I offer this challenge to you as you plan out your summer reading: Think about any arbitrary reading rules you may be harboring (and I'll bet you have some). Do you force yourself to finish any book you begin? How do you feel about skimming? Do you think that reading only "counts" if you're reading words-on-a-page (rather than having them read to you in an audiobook)? Are you an I-can-read-only-one-book-at-a-time reader? There are so many arbitrary rules we come up with for ourselves! Think about what yours might be. And let them go!
Gretchen Rubin, who regularly advocates for more reading as a strategy in her pursuit of happiness, has put together a few tips for adding more reading to your life. I think they're excellent, and worth sharing.
It's nearly time for summer reading, friends!
Get your Bingo card ready.
Identify - and challenge - your own arbitrary reading rules.
And let's savor those big stacks of heavenly books, filled with possibility!