Book Etiquette: Reading the Right Way

How does one read a book the right way? Are there certain practices and behaviors that are often disrespectful of a book or the author? I would say yes. This is all in a half-joking manner, but there are truly some things that I think we should remember when reading a book.

Judge Every Book by Its Cover Unless Given a Reason to Do Otherwise

There are enough people in this world practicing “don’t judge a book by its cover” that if they find a masterful book with an ugly cover, they’ll let you know, then you can read it. But there is no use subjecting yourself to some drab magenta book cover if you don’t really know if it will be a good book.

Stick with it until page number __.

This is a rule that lots of people have that I don’t. I’ve heard people say that they stick with a book for 100 pages, 140 pages, it really varies. My trick is that if I don’t like a book, I don’t keep reading. The end.

Give it your attention.

When you sit down to read a book, don’t jump up to do this and pull out your phone to take a picture and text your friend who is also reading a book and taking pictures. Just. Read. The. Book. Whoever wrote that book spent valuable time putting words together in an order that makes sense so that you can read it and enjoy the rhythm and flow. It wasn’t written to be grabbed in little half-paragraph bites. It was written to be chewed.

Be patient.

Newsflash! We have trouble with patience. I don’t want to sound like every social critic blogger, but I will say that the obsessive-compulsive use of social media has probably damaged our patience a lot. Instead of sitting in a doctor’s office and doing nothing (or looking at the fish or reading a book) we now scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, et cetera. So, of course, when we do most anything else, we find ourselves bored very easily.

Sadly, this happens to me practically every time I read a book. Here, a short record of my thoughts when reading a book, for your listening pleasure.

Hmm, I am enjoying this book. Very nice. Oh, good choice of word there, nice imagery. Who is this author? Oh yes. Wow, that’s an awful photo. And that bio is written in third-person but obviously written by the person herself. [See what I did there? I’m being diverse.] Back to reading. I should see how many pages are left before the end of this chapter. Ope… Just about seven. How many pages have I read so far? Just about… one. That’s nice. I love this book so much, I think I’ll check to see how far I am again. I’d say… 1/9th. No… maybe 1/10th.

…And so on and so forth. I am rightfully disgusted with myself. So I have developed a rule that I try to practice as often as my brain will let me:

Don’t check to see how many pages are left before the end of the chapter. Ever.

But someone will say “how can you know if you can read the chapter before you have to go do something else?” Well, here’s the thing, if you have to leave in the middle of a chapter, you use something called a bookmark, and if you have to do a tiny bit of back-reading next time, that’s okay. It’s probably good for you.

Actually read books.

It’s horribly rude to leave unread materials sitting around your house. Sure, they make great decorations (this is coming from someone who once checked out a bagful of books from the library just to use as decorations – they were classics, no one checks those out anyway), but too long sitting as unused decorations and they won’t feel valued.

Read your books! And while you do, remember to:

  • Judge books by their cover.
  • Stick with it until a decided page number. (If you’re that kind of person.)
  • Give it your attention.
  • Be patient.

Happy reading!

P.S. This is the 150th blog post!

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How to Read All the Books On Your To-Be-Read List

If you are a reader or you want to consider yourself a reader (like me) then you probably have a long list of books on your TBR (To Be Read list – it’s a bookworm thing). Here’s how you can get through that humongous list before you die of old age.

1. Take some books off the list.

Okay, I understand that this point is kind of cheating, but a few of those books on your list are only there because a friend guilted you into considering it (that friend being me) or because it sounded cool when you heard of it on NPR in 2015. Run through your list and kick a few off. If you need help, find some criticizing reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.

2. Focus.

Don’t tell yourself “I’m going to read thirteen books this week, I love them all!” (This is a direct quote from me.) Instead, focus on one or two (or maybe three) books at a time. My usual system is one nonfiction, one fiction, one audiobook (usually fiction) and one read aloud to the kids. However, currently I’m reading seven or so books, so I really just need to take this to heart myself. But they’re all really good books!

3. Read.

To read the books on your To Be Read list, you must read. Try reading instead of watching TV. Often you’ll enjoy this more, feel like an accomplished person, and end up going to bed earlier and getting a better night’s sleep. Think of how quickly you could finish a book if you read it for 45 minutes every day! You could read A Wrinkle in Time in about four days, The Diary of Anne Frank in a week, and Pride and Prejudice in two weeks!

4. Listen to audiobooks.

Audiobooks are wonderful because you can read a book without spending hours actually reading it. Instead, you can take a walk or drift off to sleep as you listen.

You don’t need to spend loads of money to listen to audiobooks. Most libraries have a good collection of audiobooks, or you can get a free one for every email address you have by signing up with audible, or you can use the Libravox app to listen to almost any book in the public domain.

5. Be particular about books that get on your list.

Don’t just add a book to your TBR as soon as you hear it mentioned on a podcast. For one thing, if you heard an author on a podcast talking about his or her book, you probably heard everything you need to know. You can quote me on that.

If you heard an author on a podcast talking about his or her book, you probably heard everything you need to know.   – Levi Pierpont

Only add a book to your To Be Read list if you are really excited about reading it, or it’s a fairly short book. Also, word to the wise: classics aren’t necessarily boring old tomes from the past, they’re just books that have staying value, that have withstood the test of time. That’s why classics are the best books to read, whether that’s War and Peace or The Time Quintet, age doesn’t really matter, as long as masses of people have read it before you and generally agree that the book has good, strong quality.

To view my current TBR, click here. This will take you to my Goodreads list, and with a little maneuvering, you can also view all the books I’ve logged as already read.

 

 

Madeleine L’Engle – beauty in children’s literature

Madeleine L’Engle, who lived from 1918 to 2007, was anything but common. In A Wrinkle in Time, the first and most popular book of The Time Quintet, L’Engle’s fanciful nature cannot be missed. She believed that “you have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Her heart for young people is clear to see in this quote. Through imagery, tone, and development of characters, her works for youth continue to inspire people of all ages.

In A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle’s masterful imagery paints a picture with the words “It was a shadow, nothing but a shadow. It was not even as tangible as a cloud. Was it cast by something? Or was it a Thing itself?” She is describing an evil taking over the universe, slowly enveloping planets. Further into the book, Meg must battle an entity only called “IT.” She faces the words of her own brother who has been, in some way, possessed by this being. Understandably, this brings on a dark, depressing tone. Each of her books are permeated with darkness, but there is always a glint of hopeful light. While the books are for children, they certainly contain a lot of evil.

This is not to say that the books are not quaint or fanciful. To counteract the looming shadow, L’Engle maintains a whimsical tone. This is seen particularly in the dialogue of L’Engle’s instructing side characters. In A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle writes the words of a motherly, helping character, Mrs. Which. “Llett Mrs. Whatsitt expllainn. Shee isss yyoungg annd thee llanguage of worrds iss eeasierr fforr hherr thann itt iss fforr Mrs. Whoo andd mee.” Simply by adding letters, she lets the reader hear the character in his head. A quote from the second book in the Time Quintet, A Wind in the Door, adds to this beautifully eccentric feeling. A cherubim named Proginoskes explains why not every human can see him, saying “I’m real, and most earthlings can bear very little reality.” This is how Madeline L’Engle saw the world. A Teacher called Blajeny instructs in A Wind in the Door, “Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” Instead of looking for logical answers to everything, L’Engle created fantastical theories for what she saw (supplemented by scientific theories of others in her time) and wrote them into her books.

L’Engle’s characters are perhaps the most endearing part of every book. Meg, of course, was quite ordinary, but gave a lesson nevertheless. In the words of the author, “When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.” Meg was certainly fragile at the beginning, but she grew through her adventures to be strong. When her feelings are described, readers feel as though they have been placed directly into her brain and body; every thought or sensation faintly tugs at them. As Meg is taken into another world, L’Engle writes “She screamed out, ‘Charles!’ …The word was flung back down her throat and she choked on it.” The second main character in A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door is Charles Wallace. This young genius has the unnerving ability of practically reading the minds of almost anyone he cares for. He always knows when his older sister is hungry, tired, or needs someone to talk to, and he did not speak at all until he was almost four years old, when he began speaking in complete sentences. Whenever the rest of the cast is in worrisome trouble, Charles Wallace is kind, quiet, and calm. While other fantasy authors seek to astound readers with their world building, L’Engle uses the simple method of deep, thoughtful characters.

Madeleine L’Engle’s children’s books are treasure troves for the thoughtful, the fearful, and the hopeful. By beautiful taste in words, ability to cast an image in the reader’s head, rich development of characters, and whimsical, yet wise tone, she will be remembered as a great author of fantasy.

(Note: this is ANOTHER one of my writing class papers. Hope you enjoyed it!)

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle – a review

A few years ago, I watched a movie with my family that made all of us think “why did we waste two hours watching that?” You would think that, after an experience like this, I wouldn’t think of reading the book that inspired the movie. But… something in me decided to pick it up when I happened upon it at the library. So, I took it home, and I really liked it. That book was A Wrinkle in Time. Then, I tried to read the sequel (A Wind in the Door) and just didn’t get into it. For a couple years, I was content with this. Then I read the first book again and loved it so much I decided to buy the boxed set of the whole series, which included the one I hadn’t enjoyed starting. Well, I decided to give it more of a chance, and I’m glad I did.

First to the only two downsides I can think of.

  1. The book doesn’t really get started off onto the main plot featured on the back until almost halfway through the book. It’s not a big deal, but I wish the back cover would have talked about the whole book, not just the last part. (I got my copy from Square Fish. You can grab yours here.)
  2. It’s bizarre. The first book is a bit bizarre, this one is even more so, and I’m sure the others will be. I kind of like it that way, but I know many people who don’t enjoy that style.

Now that I have that out of the way: Madeleine L’Engle has a magical way of describing things. This is a beautiful, intricate book, and you need to read it. Although, if you have not read A Wrinkle in Time yet, definitely do that first.

I underlined at least three quotes in the reading of this masterful work. Here are two of my favorites:

“I’m real, and most earthlings can bear very little reality.” (The Cheribum speaking to Meg, p.92 of my Square Fish copy.)

“It is the nature of love to create. It is the nature of hate to destroy.” -Blajeny

Although these books will astound you with their fantasy, they will touch you with their meaning. So go find A Wrinkle in Time and get started on this breathtaking series. (Be sure to let me know how you like it!)

NoteI wrote an analysis on L’Engle’s writing, you can read that here.

 

 

 

goodreads

Hello, my friends. I feel like every other day, I’m telling you about a social media you can find me on. This time, it’s a reading website that I’m sure most of you have heard of. It’s called “Goodreads,” and you can go straight to their website here.

On this wonderfully bookish social media, you have shelves of books: to-be-read, read, and currently reading. You can also add more shelves if you want to. As you use the site, it suggests books to you, and you can also write reviews of the books you read. You can make lists of books, create a group, and find your friends to see what they’re reading. I love it.

So please, go find me there at goodreads.com/levipierpont. There, you can follow me to see my reviews and such, or add me as a friend. You can keep up with what I’m reading, what I have read, and how I feel about it all.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL!

For only $29.99*, you can join my Children’s Reading group that I just started. (*Totally kidding, it’s free.) The purpose of the group is to make a long list of great children’s books and have discussions about them. I’d love to have you, whatever your age or stage of life.

See you there!

A Simple Jumpstart Guide to Reading

(This is a guest post wrote for my cousin’s blog, zacharypierpont.com)

Reading is hip these days. I think that’s good. So if you’re someone who wishes they read more, this guide is for you.

step one: find a book

The obvious first step is to find a book to read and start reading it! Here are a few random books from several different genres that can get you reading:

  • The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis (mind-bending page-turner)
  • A Biography of George Müller (really any one you can find, but the autobiography is super neat)
  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller (super interesting)
  • Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (hilarious, especially at the beginning)
  • White Fang by Jack London (I read this a long time ago and really got into it)

step two: read

Yup. If you want to be a reader, then… read. Turn off the TV, sit a book in front of you while you eat (if you’re eating alone… of course), read in the car (if someone else is driving), and take relaxing times before bed to read. The more you read, the more your mind will subconsciously lead you to read. So get out there and read a book!

I am the master of talking about reading at least 3x more than actually reading. -Levi Pierpont

step three: log and continue

When you finish reading a book; log the date, what you liked about it, and such. You can use an app or just simple note cards or a Google Doc. Logging books is really rewarding, because when you look back on that log, it motivates you to read more. And thus starts the circle. You can also look back on your logs and tell future generations of children about your grand literary adventures.

And now… Continue. Learn what you like, read what you don’t like now and then. Get into a reading habit. You will never wish you had watched more TV. (But a little TV is great, like a few shows that you don’t donate too much time to. On second thought, maybe just keep watching TV but stay up later and read. Next post is on getting enough sleep.)

Go read!

-Levi Pierpont

Short One: Do you want to have a great, fulfilling conversation?

Today, I had a really enjoyable and fulfilling conversation about a host of Christian matters, history, time management, and reading.

Why? Because the person I talked with was a reader, and the books he and I had read sprouted into awesome conversations. It didn’t even matter that we hadn’t read the same books!

Why are books such great conversation starters? Because books are full of thoughts and wonderings and ideas. And thoughts and wonderings and ideas are what start conversations.

So, if you want to have a great conversation, read a book!

Good conversations do not result from hoarded ideas that you have known for years. Good conversations sprout from forward thinking and ancient wisdom. And that is what books are made of! It does not matter whether it is fiction or nonfiction, they are all of great conversation material.

So read good books, if only to have good conversations.

PS: I noticed I’m getting a lot of views from Brazil. If you’re from Brazil, well… Hi! I’m glad to have you!

 

Writing Fiction

If you know me in “real life,” then you know that I’m writing a novel! But, if you only know me through this online platform, you wouldn’t know that yet. Let me take a moment to tell you about that.

About four-and-a-half months ago, under the encouragement of my writing professor, (I pronounced that in an English accent, but you can do whatever you want with it) I began writing a book. It took its inspiration (loosely) from the outside imaginary games that I would make up and play with my little siblings. That book is now 25,000 words and about halfway done.

It’s a novel about a boy named Gavryn Wickert who one day finds himself in another world. He meets a kind woman named Esiw who teaches him the magic of that world and leads him in giving back control to the council after many years of monarchy. There are story elements of loyalty, heroism, compassion, kindness, truth, and love. I call it “The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert.” 

Yes, it’s a sci-fi/mythical fantasy, but I think it would interest all people if they opened their mind up to the possibility of imaginary things.

This has been my second greatest writing endeavor, first being this blog, and so far it has been going great. I plan to finish the first draft by May 1st and have it fully edited and ready for its future by the end of Summer. (Of course, what are plans? This is a plan: a nice little imaginary story that we tell ourselves to keep us calm and ‘prepared’ for the future.)

This novel opens up a whole new world for me in writing fiction. And, while I don’t know where it will lead, I do hope to be published someday or have a successful self-publication.

If you would like to read The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert, or (TFJGW), just comment and I may send a link to the Google Doc. I have shared it with around thirty people so far and gotten great help in editing and plot things. I would love to have your input, too!

 

My Favorite Authors

I love so many authors, so I wanted to share a few with you today. Listing favorite books is nice, but a list of favorite authors includes so much more. So here is a list of my favorite authors.

CS Lewis

This one is beginning to sound is really cliché, but very true. I have read Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, and The Magician’s Nephew. I know what you’re thinking: You haven’t read the Chronicles of Narnia? Yeah… I’ve listened to the audio drama and seen the current movies. But yes, it’s on my list to read soon. 🙂

Lucy Maud Montgomery

The beloved authoress of Anne of Green Gables and so many other books. I’ve only had to read the first half of Anne to know I love LM Montgomery. She creates the best characters and endears you to each of them in the most delightful ways.

Madeleine L’Engle

This author is a lot less popular than the others, but she deserves to be famous and I am sure her books will be seen as classics before too long. She wrote mostly sci-fi and is most famous for (the only novel I have read of hers) A Wrinkle in Time. It is… awesome. Truly. I wrote of it in my short record of reading the book, “this could be the flagship for whimsy.” True whimsy, not foolishness, but a whimsical spirit that is delightfully enchanting and utterly magnificent. L’Engle is a part too liberal in her beliefs for me, but I believe she is a Christian. She died on September 6th, 2007.

Timothy Keller

This is a more recent author, but I was running out of ideas. His books (all non-fiction) are captivating and interesting. One book that I think is especially great is The Reason for God. My dad likes The Prodigal God.

Who are your favorite authors?

5 Tips For Reading For All It’s Worth

Most of us would like to read more, but sometimes it’s a struggle to stay awake, or we just want to do something else with our free time.

Hopefully I can give you some new ideas on reading more and reading for all it’s worth.

1. Choose a time each day that you regularly read. I read at 7 am most of the time or if I’m particularly enjoying a book I’ll read whenever I have time. Choose a time that most days you can spend that time reading. Don’t choose a time when you usually feel too tired to read.

2. Plan how long you will read. I read for twenty minutes, but you may feel more or less is better suited to you.

3. Don’t force yourself to read whole books. Read some of it, and if you start to get bored of it, stop reading and go on to learn from other books. If you saw a chapter you thought earlier would be interesting, skip to it, but otherwise, give up wading through boredom to get to what might be good content. (I got this tip from a blogger named Michael Hyatt at http://www.michaelhyatt.com, but I have found this to be super helpful.)

4. Read book reviews. Either from me, other bloggers, or the Amazon customer review system. Find trusted sources, and you will find good books.

5. Get a nice environment. Light a candle, get under a blanket, only have the right amount of light, and make it quiet. Get a nice environment, and it will help your concentration a lot.

I hope these tips gave you some ideas or will help you in the future.

If you have a tip of your own (or one you discovered) please share it in the comments.

If you read a book you really enjoy, please send in a book review with your name and email, and it may get posted!

If you liked this post and want to tell somebody about it, please share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Thanks a bunch!