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Why read?

Ann Swanson

Winter seems to be the perfect time to cuddle up with a book to read. I always enjoyed it when we had a snow day. That meant I would have time to read. Now, I love to read but that was not always the case. When I was growing up, I read what I had to for school, but neglected the recreational reading entirely. Oh, I went to the library because I met friends there, but when I borrowed books, I seldom read them.

It was not until after college that I really got involved with recreational reading.

That brings me to the question, “Why Read?” You can read for pleasure or you can read to learn. I have done both already this year and the year has just begun.

When I see something in the newspaper that takes my attention, I read the article. Often, the text does not match the title, however.

In college, there was a lot of reading to do. None it was recreational or light. I was always reading to learn. It was during the years in college that I got my first reading glasses. It seemed like I read so much that my eyes were tired. I still only wear glasses for reading or writing.

The reading that I liked to do best was the reading that required me to do something. Science experiments came under this category. I guess I always liked the scientific field although I did not major in it. To me, science experiments were fun. To document your findings was a challenge. I remember teaching my sixth graders to write out science experiments. I knew that was a skill they would need when they got to high school.

Directions, on the other hand, were always difficult to understand. You know the old saying, “If all else fails, read the instructions.” I recently had to look up the manual for my little mixer. I could not get the beaters to stay in it. I could use the pictures for this and really do not have to read at all.

Shortly after Dick died, I had to dig out the manual for the lawnmower. Believe me, I was ready to just give up at that point. I felt so inadequate. I realized that I did not even know how to start the thing. A perusal of the manual and I was in business. I really needed to mow the lawn! We had traded mowers during the years that he mowed so I was dealing with something that I had never run.

Another time I had to read the directions was on one Christmas Eve. We were trying to assemble a doll buggy for our daughter. Even when we read the directions there was trouble. It seemed we were missing a part. My husband was excellent at what he called “field expediency” so he found something that worked and she had her buggy the next morning.

Today you are lucky if you get an owner’s manual. Many things do not come with one anymore. I guess you are just supposed to figure things out on your own. If you do get a manual you are blessed with directions in many languages. You just hope that one of them makes sense to you.

People frequently ask me where I get ideas to write about. I tell them that I read and I talk to people. Actually, the talking yields more columns than the reading these days. If you just get someone to talk, often it lends itself to a column. If my reading leads to a column, I go with it. Often, I begin a column with one train of thought but end up with something far different in the end.

My favorite type of reading these days is the recreational type. I like mysteries – light ones are fine. They just have to have twists and turns that keep me interested. Some mysteries these days are just too predictable for my taste.

I also enjoy love stories. I have read many very good ones. Karen Kingsbury is a special author that I read a lot of. Her books are clean, but they are real. She has a program where she gives copies of her books to libraries. I appreciate that as well since libraries are strapped for money these days. I also read Jennifer Chiaverini, Beverly Lewis, Colleen Coble, and Joanne Fluke. While none of these classify as excellent literature, they do entertain. That is the main reason that I read today. While my husband is watching something that I really do not care about, I read.

Books take you to exotic places. I recall reading about plants that were from Hawaii when I read one author. I had the opportunity to see those plants when I visited Hawaii and the story made so much more sense. Often the setting propels the story without the reader realizing it.

When I open a book, I want to be entertained. I want to experience things that I have never experienced. I want to learn about a different culture or some exotic place.

One set of books that I really enjoyed was written by a woman who moved to Alaska with her husband and young son. It is a true story about her experiences and trials and triumphs. You feel her passion as she pursues her goals. When I bought the set second-hand, it was almost falling apart. It was in paperback. Now, I have a rubber-band around it to keep it together. I read it before I went to Alaska the first time. While I visited, I noticed some of the things that she talked about. Living in Alaska is different than living around here that is for sure. I would never have made a homesteader. Although I lived through some pretty tough experiences, I could see there was an end to them. In Alaska, that is how life is and what you will have as long as you live there.

I have a Kindle with many books on it. I did not think I would like one but I do. The book is there instantly. When I travel, I always take a paperback so I can read when the battery is gone or when I am unable to turn the thing on. At any rate, this winter you can be sure I will read.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheightts1@verizon.net.

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