You know, I’ve never thought about the way I read until this summer, when I was doing my English summer assignment. The assignment includes a list of essays that talks about different ways to make a book your own. One that stood out to me was Mortimer J. Adler’s How To Mark A Book.
Adler’s essay talks about the three kinds of book owners:
1) The one who buys all the latest and most popular books but never reads them.
2) The one who owns and reads all kinds of books, but never makes any marks in any of them.
3) This one owns very few books but every one of those books have been written all over.
For a long time, I didn’t buy very many books. Most (it was probably close to all) of the books I’ve read were borrowed from the library. And those that I bought were usually kept in pristine condition. See, this is when it gets confusing. I like books when they look extremely battered, like the kinds of paperback books from the 1990s that’s still in your basement, and books kept in mint condition as well. If I could, I would probably buy 2 copies of every book, one to read and one to hold. But see, after reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Four Types of Readers, I have an idea which one out of Adler’s description may be a mogul diamond. (psst, I think it’s the third one)
I admit, I’m not a mogul diamond myself, I’m only a sponge. Sure, in my past English classes we’ve had to read plenty of books and had very interesting discussions about them, but after those discussions, I realized that it usually were others who would bring up detailed analysis of the chapter, details that I had never even thought of. Now I realize that I was in the presence of mogul diamonds. Those are the type that allow others to profit from their reading. But simply bringing up an analysis wasn’t enough, often times I noticed that they would add other small details that gave the discussion a push forward, that allow others to contribute. It’s an ongoing cycle, all started by the mogul diamonds that gave everyone a push ahead.
That’s who I aim to be. And I think I know how to get there. See, whenever I read, I had only concentrated on the plot, because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to know what happens next? Often times when I do that, I skip over important details about the characters. Sometimes, it’s these details that explain why the character did this. I wish I hadn’t rush.
Sometimes you just need to stop and ponder it, man.