Way back into love for … reading

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

Francis Bacon, The Essays

During the last few months, for some odd reasons, incidents or happenstances, I started to be addicted to reading books again. Actually, I started to find my way back into love with books a year ago. (Once again, many thanks should come to the girl I mentioned in my post of serendipity). I began to find my reading habit with Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), The Help (Kathryn Stockett), Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell).  My enthusiasm was interrupted during the first half of the year when I prepared to sitting for CFA Level 1 on June 2015. I read lots of books during those 6 months indeed. (6 Curriculum books and 6 Schweser notes – 12 books are way too much for 6 months, aren’t they?). But could it be considered a real book? Though textbooks are also very informative and of course require the authors  lots of efforts, the similarity shared between books of the same subjects (I remember how silly I was to download tons of ebooks in accounting when I started learning about this subject at the university to find myself rarely open most of them) or the fact that textbooks must be updated years by years to keep up with changes in the marketplace drive me not to think textbooks to be like the real books. A real book, fiction or non-fiction, find its own way to stand out of the other books of the same theme. It focuses more on a specific point of a bigger issue and develops its own stories around this specific point. Unlike the information in the textbook, which you can easily find elsewhere in another textbook of the same subject or Internet, the content provided in the real books does not limit itself as information or general knowledge but has been transformed to wisdom of its author. I can see the personality of the authors through the ways they translated general knowledge into their wisdom and I love how these books remain their standings in the civilized world even when their authors already passed away. Don’t get me wrong. I mean no offense to textbooks or mean that textbooks are unreal books. I cannot deny that some textbooks’ authors do make me smile while I scan through the pages and find myself astonished at their senses of humor (i.e. my favorite textbooks at university were “Principles of Microeconomics” and “Principles of Macroeconomics” written by Greg Mankiw or “The Economics of Money, Banking & Financial Markets” written by F.S Miskin). The problem is that my language foundered at this matter and I cannot find a more describable term to coin the books that are different from textbooks. Sorry for rambling too much on theme of textbooks, what I really try to say is that the focus of this page/ this post will be the “real” books or books other than textbooks (Sorry once again if you find it not right to have books categorized this way.)

Fortunately, there is one common thing that both kinds of books share, which is that there are both good books and bad books in both genres. During my way back into real books, I do meet some excellent books, some so-so and some terrible books. However, it is not that bad when you stumbled upon a terrible book. At least you know more about your taste and your book reading gets refined days by days. I grow myself a habit of visiting a bookshop once or twice a month. Sometimes, I go to the bookshop with an intention of finding specific titles which have been shared among my friends on the Internet. Sometimes, I just spend one or two hours in the bookshop to find myself a title that seems to be interesting. Such randomness does bring me with good books sometimes. “The Innocent Abroad” by Mark Twain should be a case in point. I do not know exactly what drew my attention to this book at the first place but I remember how I was totally into the book after reading a few first pages and did not lose my enthusiasm until the very last pages of the book.

My way back into love for reading is not easy at all, indeed. While it did not take much effort for me as a child to pick up a book and read it thoroughly, the adult version of mine finds it difficult to concentrate in reading at the first place. During that age of Interne and social media, to force myself to commit to reading the whole book without checking Facebook, Instagram, etc. was also so big a challenge. But then when such reading habit has been established, I find it uncomfortable to skip a weekend without reading and sometimes I even prefer finishing reading a book to leaving home for an appointment. Reading books has helped me improve my ability of focus and also broaden my own perspectives. Currently, I do not have any specific favorite book genre. When I get tired with the fiction ones, I move to the non-fiction. I switch from anthropology to philosophy, from economics to politics and I feel the kid version of mine decade ago when I wish I could know everything in the world. The other challenge on my way back into love for reading is to find a book that worth reading. While my resources are limited, even an hour reading a terrible book makes such a waste of time. As one of my friends advised, I started with the classic ones. The rationale behind the advice is that books published long ago and remained beloved by generations of audiences should not be terrible ones. It also depends on personal taste, of course (For instance, I fail to find myself interested with Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces) but I myself find such piece of advice quite helpful. Another method to find good books of mine is to scan through the short/ long list of prestigious book prizes like Pulitzer, Man Booker, etc. Weeks ago when my father told me that I could send a list of books to his friend who is currently working in Bangkok so that she could go to the bookstore in Bangkok and buy them for me (I remember I told about Kinokuniya Bookstore once), I had difficult time to search some book titles which are not available in any bookstore in Hanoi and are good at the same time. Then I rely on these book prizes for suggestion. I do hope that such method of finding a good book is helpful and proves that books that win prize should be books that are worth reading.

Then, after all of these rambling words, all I want to do in this post is to open a new corner in my blog, where I list out all the books I have bought so far. Seriously, the fact that lots of books left unread in my bookshelf makes me feel uneasy all the time then I create such page to challenge myself to make a commitment to reading all the books I have bought. I will also try to write some reviews on books I have already read and make some ratings myself. Hope that such corner will improve my own blog experience and make this blog much more interesting (I hate to turn my own blog into something like a self-help blog).

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