We readers, many of us at least, walked our first independent reader miles in a school setting, reading according to a fixed curriculum. I have many joyful memories of the introduction to reading in school and the cornucopia of books I met during high school. The teacher was a guide through the jungle, pointing out species of special interest, but every penny has a backside, and a teacher can stiffen the discussion, analysis, and opinion. All of a sudden, the wild jungle experience is reduces to looking at caged animals, doing tricks.
Enriching books always have emphasis, and we would all like to grow, intellectually and emotionally through our reading. Somewhere just below the surface is the realization that some books are good to read and others are bad – or simply put trash. We crave a guide once more. We read according to lists on classics, literature, greatest contemporary novels, or whatever you are supposed to read. Some lists are provided by others, some by ourselves. A reader’s companion to classic literature. 1001 books to read before you die. I have several compilations like that – and I enjoy going through them from time to time, ticking off the books, I have already read.
However, the journey from A to B is seldom a straight line – the same goes for reading. We don’t necessarily grow or become smarter by reading the books, we are supposed to read. I also believe Haruki Murakami has a point, when he said:
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
Diversity is necessary on a personal as well as on a community level. Read what you want, when you want. You will find that even though you don’t follow a plan, there are central themes in your reading. Genres lead the way like highways; themes branch off to roads and smaller byways. Collectively, it becomes a detailed map showing your reading journey.
Enjoy your journey!