Now that the library and bookstore Winter Reading Challenge is well underway I find myself having stimulating reading conversations with patrons participating in the challenge. What I need a reminder of now and then, is how we all read so differently and are challenged by different things. We also have different needs when it comes to being challenged. Many who read from the challenge list tell me exactly the same thing: "These books are so challenging." What is interesting, however, is the different tone of voice when people say that very same sentence. Some people are excited about it, but for some, it just makes them tired and irritated (and yet, they have embarked on the reading-challenge journey, which I find particularly admirable).
As far back as I can remember, my father has been reading In Search of Lost Time, the famous seven-part volume by Marcel Proust. (As a Francophone, he is reading it in French, A la recherche du temps perdu.) He reads the entire seven volumes all the way through, takes notes in the margin in pencil. Then, when he has gone through the entire seven books, he starts over. Every now and then he says, "I think this is the last time I'll read this." But he keeps reading. Now, at age 89, he is still reading Proust, amazed at the new things he keeps finding among the pages. He reads other books too, lots, but only Proust gets his undivided attention like that.
I am not sure if my father challenges himself by reading Proust, or if it is the other stuff he reads that's challenging to him. Pouring over every word in the thick volume seems to come naturally to him. For me, reading across the library, non-fiction, young adult novels, picture books, romance, is not the challenge. My challenge would be to make myself read more than one book by the same author. Even when I like the beginning of a series, I want something new when I'm done with the first book.
How about you? What is your challenge? Do you push yourself when it comes to reading? Have you joined the annual library-bookstore Winter Reading Challenge? Try it!