I like big books, and I cannot lie.
Well, at least, that’s the inscription on a tote bag I pinned to a “cool stuff” Pinterest board my freshman year of high school. But, I’m not lying when I say that books (short and long) have been a big part of my life.
The daughter of a librarian and three generations of english teachers, I seldom spent long without a book in my hand. Our car rides, time in the waiting room, lazy afternoons, and moments before sleep were accompanied by — if not featured — a good book.
And most of my fundamental understanding of the world and the way it does or can work has come from books. I remember the first time I uncovered I literary symbol on my own, the pain I felt at the pit of my stomach when a book ended before I wanted it to, and the sense of independence and rebelliousness I developed as I snuck Marx and Nietzsche around my conservative, rural hometown.
Reading Suzuki literature such as Nurtured by Love, Helping Parents Practice, and Teaching From the Balance Point gave me a framework on which to hang my 15 years of suzuki experience. It was through books that I began to feel like a teacher, and with their vocabulary I began to communicate like one. It was because I read the work of Dr. Suzuki, William Starr, Carolyn McCall Meyer, Ivan Galamian, Leopold Auer, Simon Fischer, Ed Sprunger, Ed, Kreitman that I felt confident enough to start engaging with other violin teachers, recognize quality teaching, and start to analyze my own.
The lifelong habit or reading has persisted through my time in college, but it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be.
Information flies at us in so many forms, coming from books but also…
- social media
- online courses
- college classes
- youtube videos
And these information channels seem to have far more flash, wonder, surprise, and engineered delight then the standard old paper book.
But I believe it is worth continuing to choose the “boring,” paper version of information for a few compelling reasons.
- Books are long form and intimate. Few books are less than fifty pages and are typically written by just one person. The author pours out their nuanced understanding of complex issues in as clear of a way as possible. Comparing that form of communication to a post on Instagram or tweet, books seem to categorically dominate in terms of depth. Books are toilsome to write, and often filtered by publishers, meaning what you see by the time you get to a bookshelf is a rigorously screened collection of long form, compelling thought that represents some of the best our public thought has to offer.
- Books are inexpensive, usually free. Imagine what the price of a private consultation with Brene Brown, or David Allen, or Oprah (!) would be, and then consider the fact that you can have their book shipped to you in two days for $12. Compare the price of a book to the price of a college course, and online course, or a New York Times subscription. Consider the value of your time and how it is saved in reading one focused, in depth book versus hundreds of free amateur youtube videos. The value to price ratio of books is rarely achieved by other forms of media, especially considering you can pick up most books at the public library at no charge.
- Books aren’t distracting. I used to come off social media, netflix, or the internet feeling hungover or empty, but I don’t feel that way when I finally finish a real, paper book. I don’t know if that is the result of eyes on paper versus screen, the physicality of finishing (not infinite scrolling), or merely the fact that there are no apps in my book I can easily escape to when the going gets tough. Reading a real book feels like the deep learning I do when I play my real violin, or walk on my real feet in real nature. There are few things better.
So to recommit myself to reading and to keep track of what I have read, I’ve created a reading page here on the site. I’ll keep a list for myself of what I’ve read year to year, and also use the page as a way to trackback posts I write related to the books that I read.
You can take a gander here, but I’d honestly rather you go curl up in a corner with the good book you’ve been trying to read forever. Enjoy!