Read something, if only between the lines

March is reading month. While I’m glad to have national, state and local attention focused on reading, to me, every month is reading month and I think it should be for everyone else, too. I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’re most likely a reader.

Some people claim to not like to read books. It makes me wonder what head injury or school days trauma befell them. Did the other kids make fun of how they slaughtered words like “militia” as they read aloud, or did they suffer a poor grade on their Davy Crockett book report?

If, Heaven forbid, you dislike books, then go ahead and read magazines or newspapers. The point is, read something. I’m avoiding saying, “anything is better than nothing,” because I occasionally encounter publications of so little value they wouldn’t be useful even on the occasions you run out of toilet paper at deer camp.

At my house, we subscribe to Newsweek, The Economist, Brain Child, More, Going Bonkers and Toastmasters magazines. We also receive the U.C. Clarion and the Battle Creek Enquirer. In the past, we subscribed to even more publications, but ended up feeling overwhelmed and guilty when we couldn’t do them all justice.

If you want a really interesting education, pick up another industry’s inside publication. While I was waiting in the lobby of my financial planner’s office, one of his industry journals had accidentally made its way into the client magazine rack. The title article suggested instead of getting more clients, financial planners get a greater share of their client’s wealth to invest. That was highly educational, as it helped me better defend my falsely rumored “wealth” against future sales pitches.

Everyone in our family reads. My husband and I sometimes have reading dates when we sit, legs entwined, on opposite ends of a long couch, immersed in separate books or magazines. If you’re thinking, “Oh, how sweet, this must bring you closer as a couple,” you would be wrong. Our reverie usually ends abruptly after one of us becomes so enthused over our reading that we feel compelled to share multiple passages aloud. Would you just shut up?!

Similarly, we’ve now been married long enough to have occasions when we go out for early Sunday breakfast, purchase a big city Sunday newspaper and read it while waiting for our meals. We haven’t been married quite long enough to continue to read and ignore one another after the food arrives, like we see other couples do. Thank goodness we still have that to look forward to.

I recently boxed up some of my children’s earliest books and sent them to my daughter-in-law, Emily, in Kentucky. She’s already been reading to her six-month-old son, but grown bored of their stash of mind-numbing infant lit.

Perhaps receipt of Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You and The Eye Book will renew her interest and expand her baby babbling boundaries. I’m saving Miss Merry Mack (Mack Mack) and Farmer Jones for a later date, after my kids and I have demonstrated live to Emily the many options for obnoxious sound effects. I have faith little Xander will become a reader because his mom is. That’s how it usually works.

The problem with being a young, new reader is you don’t know what you like and/or what’s good. A fortunate few encounter an enthusiastic teacher or librarian who turns them on to the more universally acknowledged good stuff that kids seem to enjoy. Right now, it’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Having a Wimpy Kid movie available also helps.

Adults seeking to become readers have it harder. If you’re lucky, you stumble across something that captures your fancy. If not, keep on looking. WARNING: Asking for recommendations can be a bust. My father favored westerns, my mother devoured Victorian suspense novels, an uncle was a true detective fan, while an aunt breezed through romance novels and my best friend inhaled sci-fi.

I’d quit reading tomorrow if I thought those were my only options. Just give me that old-time non-fiction in the form of biographies and how-to volumes. Read between the lines: Real life is always stranger than anything that can be written or read . . . . here or elsewhere.


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