We are very pleased to have our guest post this week by Rebecca Schinsky, Senior Editor at Book Riot, a website dedicated to the idea that writing about books and reading should be just as diverse as books and readers are—and one of the favorite bookish websites of our Reading Rainbow Mom.
The recommendations come fast and furious on the bookish internet, and with them, a creeping sense of guilt that maybe we’re not the Good Readers we like to think we are. To that, I call shenanigans. The reading life is supposed to be fun and enriching–what could be better than books?!–so it’s high time we made some new rules. Here are five that apply whether you’re trying to raise lifelong book lovers, enjoy your own reading life, or both.
1. Never let someone tell you that you read too much.
Whether you first encounter it on the playground, in the hallway between classes, or around the watercooler at work, it happens to every reader: someday, someone will tell you that you read too much. Or they’ll say, “I wish I had time to read so much,” in a nasty backhanded way that is really code for, “I’m way busier and more important than you are.”
When they say it, it will sting. There’s no way around that. But it has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. If books make your life better, and you’re not reading so much that you fail to go to school or work or participate in healthy relationships, you just get on down with your bad bookish self.
2. Love what you love.
As soon as we understand the concept of “cool,” we understand that some things confer coolness and other things don’t. And of course we want to be cool, and we want to be liked. Here’s the secret: the coolest thing any reader–or anyone at all, really–can do is embrace what they love and share it enthusiastically. Ray Bradbury said it first. Don’t waste time hiding the stuff you love or pretending you love stuff you don’t in an attempt to be cool. There’s a great big beautiful world of readers out there. Love what you love, and encourage others to love what they love. There’s room enough for everybody.
…which brings me to:
3. You don’t have to read what everyone else is reading.
If the latest book of the moment doesn’t appeal to you at all, you can totally skip it and no secret book police will come after you. Or you can try it and then bail out if you don’t like it (because it’s totally OK to quit books, too.) And if you finish it and hate it? Guess what? That’s allowed! It’s OK not to love something that everyone else loves. It doesn’t make you a bad reader.
4. Let books make your world bigger.
People might tell you that reading is a way to hide from the world, and sometimes it can be, but in my experience, people who love books are also interested in myriad other things. They love music and movies and travel food and (gasp!) even television. As a friend of mine says, books make you a glutton for life. They show you how much there is to be experienced in the world. So let them do that. Let them make you curious. Let them make you hungry. Let them give you more questions than answers.
5. Know that there’s no wrong way to read and no wrong reason for reading.
Let’s just settle this once and for all. Print books are great. Ebooks are great. Audiobooks are great. Heck, if you still prefer to read stories chiseled into stone tablets, that’s cool too. Also, you can read for any reason you want. Read to escape, read to learn, read to be challenged, read to be comforted. No one way of reading is better, more valid, or more valuable than the others. And that’s all there is to it.
Any rules for a rocking reading life you’d add?
Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the director of content and community engagement of Riot New Media Group. She writes about books, the reading, life, and the publishing industry at Book Riot and her love of all things southern and fried at Food Riot. She is a co-founder of Bookrageous, a lover of 90s hip-hop, and a believer that books can take you anywhere. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccaschinsky.