Reading and Reflection

April 5, 2009

My brother-in-law Scott recently created his own book database which I have had the pleasure of reading. I, too, keep a record of all the books I’ve read, but I do it at Goodreads because I’m not as smart as he is; I can’t create a website on my own. But he WAS  the valedictorian of our high school class, so I don’t expect anything less.

Anyway, Scott’s database is much more thorough than mine is, and he writes a synopsis and critique of each book whereas I just give a rating and occasionally write a short review. One of the books Scott has written about is Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. This is the first of a sci-fi trilogy which I read and enjoyed. It is sort of an allegory about a man, Ransom, who visits other planets. Scott writes about one encounter Ransom has with the species on this new planet. Allow me to quote him:

“Ransom has an interesting conversation with Hyoi at one point about memory in regards to sexual experience. The hrossa only have sex for procreation, so Ransom asks if they miss the fact that it happens so infrequently. Hyoi, however, claims that it is only by remembering something for years that the experience of that thing truly becomes complete. Clearly this is a very Catholic idea, but at heart it is very appealing. After all, I often find myself jumping from one new experience to the next (be it books, games, or life in general) rather than reflecting and contemplating what I have experienced in the past. In fact, this book database effort is an example of me realizing that and attempting in some way to deal with it. My hope is that, in time, my past experience with a book will become richer as I reflect upon it with greater wisdom and maturity.”

When I read that, I realized that I am the exact same way, especially with books. There are so many I want to read, so the very minute I finish one I pick up the next. Immediately, the impact of the last book is lost. Only a very few books do I re-read. The book club I’ve been in for over three years is helpful in that it gives me a chance to discuss the books we’ve chosen, but by the time we have our meetings it’s usually been weeks since I’ve read the book and have forgotten a lot of it.

I would love to write about books the way Scott is attempting to. I just don’t know if I can commit that amount of time to it. And what about the rest of my life? Do I ever take time to reflect? Well, sometimes. In the morning when I’m driving to work I make it a point not to listen to music, and I talk to myself instead. This blog forces me to think about my life in order to write about it coherently.

For Lent, which I never wrote about because my website was down when it started, I decided to slow down. I wouldn’t take on any new commitments, I would spend more time with my husband and my family, I would drive the speed limit, and every morning I would write in a prayer journal. For the most part I’ve done these things, and although I want them to be part of my lifestyle from now on, I’m not sure if they’re going to stick – except for the spending time with family part. That one’s easy, although my parents may protest otherwise.

I guess I’m just thinking about thinking. I want all my experiences to be full and complete. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you read books? Do you take any intentional time to reflect on your life?

Posted in: books & reading

Comments on Reading and Reflection

  1. 1

    From Julienne:

    I’m an avid reader but I don’t spend much time contemplating what I’ve read. It gets to the point where I don’t remember titles or author’s names and it’s continually frustrating. I’m not sure whether I could actually set aside time between books to ponder them just because I NEED to be reading something, but I have begun reading with a pen in my hand so I can make notes. It makes me think more critically about the information I’m allowing into my head. :)

  2. 2

    From Scott:

    Knowing that I will have to write something has definitely helped me read more critically. Personally, I keep a stack of post-its next to me at all times while reading so I can tag parts I want to refer to later.

    And Kathleen, I’m flattered that you took the time to read what I wrote – I hope you find future entries interesting as well!

  3. 3

    From Christiana:

    I think this is such a great idea, I pretty much consume books. Especially those that are in trilogies etc. I just take a day and rip through them instead of reflecting on what I’ve read. Did you feel that your Lenten experience has altered your usual approach to life?

    ps.thanks for the comment!

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