Finding something new and varied to read for interest and enjoyment can sometimes be a challenge. By its very nature, the act of reading to oneself is a personal and intimate experience. So much of the reading process involves the reader syncing their imagination, experiences and expectations with that of the author. It can be very frustrating to start reading the “wrong” book, and to be disappointed in the selection you have made. We are all busy and would rather invest time and energy in reading the “perfect” book.
Our current display in Smith Library offers some ideas on how to find new directions for your reading. All the titles displayed are designed to be read, in whole or in part, in twenty minutes. If after twenty minutes you do not like what you have read–switch it out and sample another. Take 20 minutes and try reading something new (and different) in 2020!
You might begin with reading some book reviews. If you have ever tried to write a book review, then you will know how hard they can be to craft! The Wall Street Journal (Weekend Edition), always has a fine selection of book reviews in the “Review” section. For an international range of book reviews, providing a different perspective, try The Economist magazine. Published weekly in London since 1843, The Economist magazine always prints a range of reviews of the latest international book titles.
For longer and more in-depth reviews, have a look at the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), with reviews written by experts in the field they are reviewing. Also worth reading are reviews of current plays, exhibitions or movies, as well as editorial articles.
All three of these titles are available on the shelves that form the outer edge of the ReaderSpace – 2nd floor, Smith Library. Ask a librarian for help finding these, or any other, materials.
Short Stories, Fairy Tales & Legends
Reading a well-crafted short story for 20 minutes can be extremely rewarding. You might know Roald Dahl’s books written for children, such as James and the Giant Peach or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You might be less familiar with Dahl’s adult literature, including his tales of macabre mystery, Switch Bitch or Kiss Kiss. Other international masters of the short story genre are represented in the display, including tales by Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov or Somerset Maugham. Having sampled some 20 minute short tales, consider reading longer works by any (or all!), of these master storytellers.
Consider changing up your reading for 2020 by paying a visit to the School of Education Resource Center, which houses a collection of children’s literature that is designed for students who are learning to be teachers. Explore nearly 8,000 titles, (librarian Pam Grubb can give expert help), and rediscover old favorites from your childhood, or make new discoveries. Try going old-school by discovering an old Brothers Grimm fairy tale, re-told by master contemporary storyteller, Phillip Pullman. Or, go really old-school and read some Native American legends that go way back into the collective ancient histories of mankind.
Speeches & Letters
Modern speeches, especially in partisan political settings, are often short, full of “sound bites”, and frequently have little lasting value. Conversely, many of the great speeches from history have decided the fate of nations and civilizations, and determined the lives of millions of individuals. Try reading some historical speeches, and see if they convince you! David McCullough is a contemporary American historian, and has written and delivered many fine speeches. Check out his collection, The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For. If you like his prose style, McCullough has written a great number of excellent longer histories–ask a librarian for help finding them.
The contents of letters, often exchanged between individuals, were sometimes intended to be private–but not always. Take a look at Shaun Usher’s fine collection of remarkable and unusual letters, many of which can be read in twenty minutes (or under!).
Poems, Essays & Plays
Poems and non-fiction essays come in a wide variety of forms, with many that can be read in 20 minutes. The best of each form convey an idea, or series of ideas, directly from the pen of the author or poet straight into your imagination. We have many collections of poems at HPU and the display features a number of poetry books from the Everyman’s Library (Pocket Poets) series. Each themed volume features many poems, both long and short, from many continents and covering many centuries.
We also have many collections of non-fiction essays to choose from at HPU. Check out Oliver Sacks (a neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author) who deals with the immense complexities of the workings of the human brain in his book of essays, titled Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales. Twenty minutes spent reading one of his compassionate essays will show you how much we have to learn about the wonders of the human brain.
… And of course, you could always cheat and spend 20 minutes reading two 10-minute plays!
The items under discussion, and currently on display in Smith Library, represent only a tiny sample of the different materials we hold. Take a look at the HPU Libraries Leisure Reading Guide for further ideas on where your reading might take you next … for 20 minutes … or much longer: https://guides.highpoint.edu/leisure_reading
-Blog post by Andrew Fair, Evening Reference Librarian