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National Editorials & Columns

We must learn new words in new ways

If I could do nothing else, I would hope to whet your reading appetite.  There is so much pleasure that the reader experiences.

With libraries, garage sales, and books stores even the poorest of us can dine at the most expensive reading restaurants. I can choose from the past or present.  If my library doesn’t have what I want the wonderful inner-library loan system will usually bring it to me.

Also, I can choose books to please my professional self, my spiritual self, my special interest self, and my fun self.  What other kind of entertainment gives me such a wide variety of choice?

Our thought processes are the victims of inherited words. I’m not sure I know what that means, but I know I don’t want to be a victim; I want to be the captain of my vocabulary.  I know we cannot think without language and that our vocabulary is very limited unless we are learning new words in new ways.

Because I am forever curious and because I love words and books, I conducted a very informal survey among all ages asking them to list their five favorite books. I got some very interesting results. Few titles were repeated.

Just as our checkbook reveals a picture of our values, what we read gives a picture of our needs, interests and joys. What does what you read tell about you? You probably wouldn’t list the same books next year.

Those who responded gave some thoughtful responses. Several included the Bible on their list; one called it the “Ultimate Self Help.”

Middle schoolers listed: “Running Dream” by Wendelin VanDraanen, “Out of my mind” by Sharon Draper, and “Artichoke’s Heart” by Suzanne Supplee as well as authors Rick Riordan and Clive Cussler.

Young adults listed: The Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher, “Improbable” by Adam Fawer, “Daemon” by David Saurez, and “Firestarter” and “Cell” by Stephen King.

Middle-aged adults listed a variety of books, including: “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers, “Boundries” (self-help) by Cloud & Townsend, “Smart Women Know When to Say No” by Kevin Leman, and “Healing of Damaged Emotions” by David Semands. 

One respondent said, “Wow it would be impossible for me to figure out the top five favorite books because I’ve read so many books of all different flavors, and my memory is slipping, however, here we go.”

That reader’s picks included: “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Album, “Three Cups of Tea” by David Relin and Greg Mortenson, “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank, “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien and “Into the Wilderness” by Sara Donati.

“Here is my list of books, not all on a current best seller list. It was a challenge to decide what titles to send,” another reader said. “I really, like the first two authors.”

That list included: “Divine” by Karen Kingsbury, “Last December” by Richard Paul Evans, “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks, “Blessings” by Anna Quindlen, and “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” by Jennifer Chiverani.

Another said, “I can’t truthfully say these are my all-time favorites but I really loved these, but there are so many more I love also!”

That list included: “Life is So Good” by George Dawson, “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, “Black Like Me” by John Griffin, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, “Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, and “Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson. 

Some of the listed authors were: Clive Cussler, Matthew Riley, Anne Perry, Rick Riordan, Wanda Brunstetter, Robert Crais and Michael Connelly.  Some interesting titles were: “I loved Ghost Soldier,” “The Knitting Club,” and “The Help.”

From what might be termed elderly adults some classics showed up, such as: “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, “Voyage of the Beagle” by Charles Darwin, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, “Candide” by Voltaire, and “Don Quixote” by Cervantes.

There are just a few of the responses, but one thing I found is that many were willing to do some serious thinking and in doing so revived some good memories of good reads. I challenge you to try to list your five favorite books and or your five favorite authors.

See what your reading tells about you.

Another interesting question is, “How do you choose the books you read?” Do you look at the best sellers’ list, ask the librarian, ask friends, browse the library or book store shelves, use lists on your readers, internet lists, etc.?

I personally keep a list of all recommendations to take to the library, partly so I don’t pick up one I have read before and also to ask for inner library loan if it isn’t available. Through the years, my list has grown and now I have more than 200 books on my “Possibilities List.”

For me, searching for the right book is almost as much fun as reading it.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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