Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Read Books–In Any Format

My friend, Helen Adams, now has her home in an assisted living residence near Kansas City, Missouri.  When I call her and ask what she is doing, she always has the same response: “I’m reading a good book!”  Her pleasure in reading, even though she is limited about other activities, reinforces that the joy of reading lasts when other pleasures fade.  For Helen, reading is a life-long habit that has allowed her to be entertained and informed while others are watching re-runs on TV in the lobby area.

Many people will give and receive electronic readers for Christmas and many more will give and receive hardback and paperback books. My wish for you is that you will read more–and better–this year, in whatever format you enjoy.  Not just fiction, although well-written fiction can cause us to reflect, apply and evaluate. Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, Rand, Conrad, Lewis, Homer, and other great writers only wrote fiction, but their thoughts can easily be applied to many aspects of our lives.  However, reading dozens of romances, crime thrillers or other quickly churned out and quickly forgotten books , will probably not achieve the same results!

Challenge yourself to expand your thinking and your reading:  Poetry, essays, biographies, autobiographies, historic evaluations, journals, critiques, classics, translations, books from other cultures and books about subjects you’ve never even considered. Make it a point to read something every month that has the potential to inspire you, encourage you, give you insights you need, provide information you can apply immediately, help you in your daily walk and help you help others.

Try these resources and ideas:

  • www.abebooks.com. Use the search function and buy some books on a favorite topic, written before 1930, 1950, 1980 or some other abitrary date.  This is a great gift idea!
  • www.alibris.com.  Or, find a book on Amazon and buy it used there.
  • Go to a library book sale and pick three non-fiction books at random, without looking at the titles. You might not particularly enjoy or even understand the books, but it’s good to read books others do enjoy and understand! Do the same thing in the poetry section, the historical section and others.
  • Swap books with friends or just give them to each other.  When you have friends over, stack some of your used books on a counter and let them take all they want.
  • Have a book swap at  work, church, club meetings or other functions.

The second challenge, after getting a book, is to read it.  There is a tremendous temptation to skim a book, especially non-fiction. Make an effort to read the forward, introduction, all the chapters and the footnotes (often the most interesting part!).  When you read all of the book, you are more likely to be able to share the thoughts and spirit of the person who spent so much time writing all of it.  Give them the chance to convey their thoughts fully through every word, not just the first few paragraphs of three or four chapters. (On the other hand, nothing says you have to keep reading a book just to be doing it. If you can’t find something worthwhile after the first three to five chapters maybe you need to put that book in your giveaway stack.)

The third challenge of reading is to think while you’re reading.  You need to stop now and then, even with fiction, and ask yourself how you feel about it, what you think about it and how it fits with your reality and experiences. Make reading a thinking experience and you’ll enjoy it more–and feel your brain cells growing!

Helen Adams would agree with Mason Cooley, the aphorist (someone who said something you once thought and wish you could have said as well), who said, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”

December 5th, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 2 comments


  1. My father taught me, by example, about the joys of reading, which he had learned from his mother. My son visited us over Thanksgiving and I smiled to see him immersed in books from my father’s library. Our granddaughter is already thrilled to be given a book as a gift. And so the legacy continues. Thank you for your thoughts. Ms. Helen sounds like a wise woman.

    Comment by Don R. | December 5, 2010

  2. I definitely agree with Mason Cooley. if we have to stay where we are, reading is the best escape. it can take us anywhere we want to. e-book has evolved and i still find it pretty good to read a soft/hard bound book. but yeah, we still must learn to read in whatever format it may be. thanks ms. Helen.

    Comment by L.V.W. | December 9, 2010

Leave a comment