The 4 Reading Tenets & Carolyn Wells: Day 16 of Project 365

Carolyn Wells

The books we think we ought to read are poky, dull, and dry
The books that we would like to read we are ashamed to buy
The books that people talk about we never can recall
And the books that people give us, oh, they’re the worst of all.- Carolyn Wells

Carolyn Wells, the quote’s author, has pinpointed a very modern effect with books and reading. Yet, Carolyn lived and published her best poetry/prose in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. Her words are surprisingly timeless. I confess I somehow assumed individuals living a hundred years in the past did not experience the same rules of reading that I and the majority of my reading friends follow.

As a life-long reader, I believe these to be comparable to the four tenets of a reader’s life.

1. Many books I feel as though I “ought” to read I cannot get through the first fifty pages without concerted effort (even though some books I do enjoy). For example, I have a hard time reading Alexander Dumas, even though the actual substance of his novels are rich with adventure and excitement.

2. I absolutely love romance books, despite the ridicule doled out by superiors, peers, and employees at Walgreens for the past ten years. It took me several years to even pluck up the courage to be seen by strangers in the romance section. Now, however, I am a rather outspoken proponent of romance novels, and even reference the novels that are fabulous stories written in beautiful prose.

3. It feels rather inevitable when someone else mentions a book you both have read, your mind goes blank. On the surface, you know you’ve read the entire thing, cover to cover, and even formed opinions on whether you liked it or hated it. Trouble is, you cannot recall a single word, a single moment, and worst of all, a single character by name. I have a personal theory that, unless the other person has read that specific book within the past month, he or she doesn’t remember anything either, other than the one event/theme/character that they wish to dissect.

4. I’ve always had a problem reading books given to me by others. Even when I was too young to be rebellious, I recall my mom giving me a book and encouraging me to read it. It made sense on her part. Even in fourth grade I was reading two-three books a week. But out of a principle I didn’t even know I had, I flatly refused to read the book. Age did not make me wiser – it’s still overly difficult for me to read a book given to me by somebody else.

What do you think? Do these rules apply to you?

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One thought on “The 4 Reading Tenets & Carolyn Wells: Day 16 of Project 365

  1. What a fantastic quote! It is amazing to see how the reading rules still apply. As a romance writer with a degree in literature, those rules really bug me.

    Thanks for sharing!

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