Reading and re-reading
By JEFF LUND
October 20, 2019
(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Four nights into reading Roderick Haig-Brown’s classic Fisherman’s Fall, I realized I had already read it. It took me hours over four nights to realize this. Later I found an empty package of 6X leader near the end of the book – the bookmark that charted my progress. In my defense, I figured I read it a few years ago when I bought Fisherman’s Winter, Fisherman’s Spring and Fisherman’s Summer.
I know at this point my next statement is going to sound absurd, but I really do enjoy the book. How do you enjoy a book you don’t remember you read and that apparently you didn’t finish? Well, it’s not because I like to fly fish or because I teach high school English. It’s because it fits in the genre of books that just sooth the mind before bed. It’s not a plot driven, deeply symbolic masterpiece that warns society of a totalitarian government, drug cartels, censorship or anything like that. It’s simply the opposite of a screen’s blue light that is the antagonist of sleep. Honest words about fishing are the perfect ramp into unconsciousness.
As an English teacher, I realize that an English class may temper the love of reading for a student. So, I wonder how often it does. For the students who do well on the in-class essays I attempt to make unGoogle-able, I wonder if it was just a chore, or if they did enjoy it.
This particularly comes to mind when we are reading Fahrenheit 451, one of the classic books that has made it into our social stockpile of symbolism and allusions.
It’s about burning books, but more than that, it’s about the social norm that is later enforced by the government.
Faber, speaking to the protagonist Montag, tells the reader how it all went down:
I don’t reveal my political leanings to students because I believe kids should be in the fact-collecting phase of their lives until a year or two after graduation. I believe topics require scrutiny. Students don’t know where they want to go college, or if they want to go to college, who to ask to prom, what their senior quote should be – the last thing they need is a high school English teacher manipulating their world view or wearing a tinfoil helmet because he has taught one too many semesters of Science Fiction Literature and is convinced the Government is coming for him.
Anyway, I hope that any “I used to love reading until English teachers ruined it” attitude is temporary, and they settle into enjoying interacting with written words. It doesn’t matter if it’s to put them to sleep or for the simple fact that they want to know what’s going on, even if knowing what’s going on is confusing and frustrating. We need readers. Readers who know quality from questionable and questionable from whatever that other stuff is.
We need people to be engaged and interested, but genuine interest doesn’t have to mean militant action. Genuine interest often leads to 51% certainty thanks to unbelievable complexity and nuance.
That’s why I’d recommend a great book that puts you to sleep. After a day full of ugliness, anger and chaos, few things sooth the mind like some good words. Even if you forget you’ve already read them.
Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted below are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.