Reading and Talking by Cindy Hulsey

Ginnie Graham, columnist for the Tulsa World, recently wrote a wonderful article about reading. Her column made my heart sing. It sounded like it had been written by a librarian. She totally gets the benefits of reading, summing up by stating, “Reading is about escapism, imagination, learning, enjoyment, healing, thought-provoking, inspiration, laughter, sadness or just good storytelling.” Amen!

Librarians are taught that we should never apologize for our reading tastes. In other words, people read for many different reasons, those reasons can change over time or due to specific situations, and all reading is good! Librarians also learn to describe books by “appeal factors,” those aspects of a book that draw people to it.

For example, I prefer three-dimensional, well developed characters over a fast-moving plot, but many people don’t really care to know what motivates characters; they just want a lot of action that holds them spellbound. I like lots of descriptive language that evokes a specific time or place, while a friend of mine once stated, “I don’t want to know what the tree looked like, just tell me what happens!” I prefer urban settings to rural settings, but if the writing is gorgeous and the characters are memorable, I’ll read a book set anywhere.

Many people like books in series, whether mysteries, science fiction or fantasy, because they become attached to the characters and find comfort in returning to familiar places. Some like steamy, erotic romances while others prefer chaste characters and happy endings.

Reading is just the beginning of the pleasure that books deliver. Talking about books enriches the experience, helps us develop the language we use to describe books, provides much-needed human interaction, and opens our minds to new ways of thinking. TCCL offers a wide variety of book discussion groups at its branches. If you’ve been thinking about joining a group, this is a great way to do it. You can dip your toes in the water and try out different groups until you find a good fit. Visit your local library branch and ask about their book discussion group. While not every location has one, most do.