Today, I want to talk about reading. It is a little odd that I would want to talk about reading considering that right now I’m not reading anything. I’ve finished 9 books so far this month and have a goal to read 180 books this year. I’m probably going to have to revise that goal down, perhaps to the 150 I read last year. I just might not have as much time to read this year and that’s okay because my time may be filled with other fun activities.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile now you know that I review aAudiobooks. I haven’t reviewed any since last October but since I do intend to resume reviewing them shortly I didn’t want to say that I used to review Audiobooks.
Obviously, a person isn’t going to review Audiobooks on their blog if they don’t like reading. The fact that I spent something like 16% of my year 2015 reading meant that it took up a significant amount of my time.
But I didn’t used to like reading very much at all. It wasn’t necessarily that I really disliked reading but I never embraced it as an activity as a youth the way some of my other visually impaired friends (hi Amber) did.
My mom wished I would read more in the summer but like I said, it just wasn’t something I did. I liked watching TV as a kid, liked to go outside and play with friends, I played video games (this was back before my vision in my left eye began to decrease) and I played with a lot of toys. I loved my Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters and most especially my WWF and WCW action figures. One of the first posts I ever wrote for my personal website in 2014 was a post about WWF Hasbro action figures and how much I loved playing with them as a kid. I’ve even written some about my current small collection of WWE figures and how I got started collecting them late last year.
So as a kid, I was quite active aside from all of the TV watching but reading wasn’t that activity. My friend Mia wrote a post about reading and mentioned the ‘Book It’ reading program and the personal pan pizzas you got from Pizza Hut for reading so much. I did participate in that as well because…pizza. Ric Gillespie doesn’t know much but even he knows that “Personal Pan Pizza number von”. “Personal Pan Pizza number von”, is even more true when you’re a hungry 4th grader.
One reason I really didn’t gravitate towards reading very much is because I rarely picked out my own books to read. I could not just go to the library, check out a book and take it home and read it. I can’t read print and never had access to a CC-TV that would have made that print larger. Now, a CC-TV would do nothing for me.
So I had to get books on 4 track casette tapes from the South Dakota State Library. Well, this would have been fine but I never ordered my own books from there. I think sometimes they just sent me stuff to read or someone else ordered stuff for me. This is for reading that I might have done on my own, not for books that we would read in school.
If for example, we read ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ (probably my favorite book ever) that would be ordered in Braille and come from Utah most likely. My teachers would work with my braillist (we’ll discuss that job at some point in the future) and make sure that I always had the books I needed.
Well, reading for school is a different animal than reading for fun. In school it doesn’t really matter if you lose interest half way through a book because there’s probably going to be a test or a report or you’re going to have to read the book in class with everyone else.
As an aside, I think book reports are the dumbest thing I ever had to do in school. Whoever thought that book reports would encourage kids to read should be clubbed over the head with a stack of aweful book reports. Book reports are a little bit less bad when the student gets to pick their book because at least then they have a chance to find something that might interest them. Forcing someone to read a book they don’t like, a story they can’t get invested in, then having them report on said book and then giving them a c+ does not exactly make students run to the library for more of that.
I used to think I was the only person who thought book reports were dumb. I’m not, I saw an article on a friend’s Facebok page some time ago and book reports were essentially the second item on the list of bad education ideas. I wish I could find that link because being a former debater I always like to source things. Seriously, I’m usually better at Google than this. It doesn’t really matter because this isn’t the point of the post anyway.
If it were up to me, book reports would have always been extra credit work. There would be no cap on the number that you could do and the number of points you got would be based on the quality of your report. There’s still an insentive to read and it gives people the chance to improve their grades if they need to do such a thing.
I’ve never liked reading Braille for pleasure. I am an audio learner, I learn best by hearing. Some people are visual learners and some are hands on learners. The fact I am an audio learner was never more apparent than in my High School German class. also another story for another time. I don’t read Braille for pleasure now. If I read Braille now it is to study, commit something to memory or it is a recipe that I want to refer back to multiple times during the making of said recipe.
I feel like I must make a distinction between reading and books. I never disliked books. Many of my elementary school teachers would read to us each day. I liked that quite a bit. I first came to know ‘Wait Till Helen Comes’ because my fifth grade teacher read it to us. I did actually read that one again, in Braille, a couple years later.
So here’s me essentially as a child. I had really no desire to read for pleasure. In part because I didn’t have (or didn’t choose to exercise as much) control over what I read.
This is one of those things where had I been born a decade later things might have been different. It is a lot easier to browse a book catalog now using The Internet than it was back in the day using an actual book. I suppose if I had undertaken that exercise on a more frequent basis in my youth I would have been faster at it but hooray for computers. Hooray for computers lasts until the next time mine crashes which should be any minute now.
In college, I read a little bit more for pleasure. I had money that was my own and sometimes I would use it to buy Audiobooks. This is when I first read the Left Behind book series. I started out by getting abridged copies on tape (boo) and eventually moved to unabridged on CD (yay!). I remember the first time I realized what the difference was between abridged and unabridged books. The books produced for the blind through the National Library Service were all unabridged. When I realized abridged versions meant stuff was missing that did not please me.
It was actually a Left Behind book that clued me in though I can’t recall which one. A character shows up in one abridged version, everyone seems to know him, he refrences being involved in previous events and yet this is the first I’d heard of him. This proves that I don’t always bother to look up words like abridged in the dictionary. By the way, if you did what I suggested and googled a Braille Bible, the dictionary was bigger. Most people had lockers in Junior High and High School, I had a room.
Anyway, in 2006 I bought an MP3 player. It came with an audible gift card. So I tried it out. I was a member of Audible for awhile then sort of stopped.
In 2012 I got access (could have gotten it sooner but this is when it happened) to the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) website. This meant I could download books to a flash drive and play them on a special player sent to me by the state library. I knew about Librivox but that site only does works that are in the public domain. This is a program from the Library of Congress and featured current books, some of which were never produced as Audiobooks for the commercial market.
In late 2012 I started working at the Huron Public Library doing digital conversion. So I was surrounded by books and people who loved reading. I had started reading more earlier that year but it increased while I was working at the library.
One of the reasons I started reading more was because doing digital conversion I wore headphones and could listen to a book while I worked, so I did that a lot during my time working there.
And basically, I’ve been a reader ever since then. I started writing Audiobook Reviews in 2014 and haven’t really looked back. Most of my books come from Audible, Downpour, audiobooks.com or direct from a publisher like Tantor. I still use BARD for books that weren’t ever commercially produced on audio and now they have apps for IOS and Android so even the special player isn’t necessary.
This song doesn’t really have anything to do with reading. Yesterday, No Passing Fancy was having one of those “just one of those days” kind of days. So I thought of this song by Tonic Sol-Fa and put it here for her.
The lyrics don’t describe her day necessarily but there is a section that does fit pretty well! And if you’re reading this and have never heard of Tonic Sol-Fa, they’re great.