Customers read books from libraries for entertainment, to learn, and in that order. Readers indulge most frequently in fiction at public libraries with the bulk of the return visits being for this purpose. Fiction draws us in, making us into better readers and good fiction can help make us more aware individuals. Non-fiction can do the same with the two categories not having any inherent superiority. But what I am stressing here is what we read effects who and what we become. Reading, like eating, is a type of consumption. In the case of reading, what we read shapes our neural networks which can influence our body. Therefore, what we read and don’t read is of tremendous importance when it is viewed as an active force in our life, and not something passive or inert.
I don’t have the prescription for the healthy reading diet; however, I think that just being aware of ‘reading as consumption’ and being mindful is enough when we are selecting our books or articles. Our capacity to read and the time we have to read is more limited than we may think. Most people in North America average below 300 Words per Minute (WPM) with the average work of fiction being around 50,000 words. So, while someone at the higher end of the spectrum could read a basic novel in 3 hours, others novels may be more complex and readers may have a lower reading speed. If you add in distractions (life) and how much time you may actually have to commit, you may be lucky to finish a book in a week. But the point is that what you choose to read matters.
So, next time you are previewing novels you’ve borrowed, listening to a review on the CBC, or browsing the stacks, notice your reactions. Why am I choosing to read this? Will reading this enrich my mind by providing me with insight and joy or is it a distraction that will leave me confused and suffering? Sometimes we need to read reports that will make us angry, but noticing our reactions in both circumstances may be helpful and lead us to make skillful choices under these and different circumstances. Happy Reading.