Be Brave In: Books

Happy Be Brave Month! It’s March, which means it’s nearly spring and as good time a time as any for change and growth.  Over the next four weeks, we’ll look into four areas of your life that, with a little courage, can be expanded, improved, classed-up, and generally made more awesome, so you can feel more awesome, too, and get a little closer to being the best “you” possible.

Week Two will focus on books.  Reading has been a big part of my life since I was a child, but I find there are still areas I’m afraid to delve into.  Reading new things is an easy way to open your mind to new ideas, experience other cultures, learn, or be entertained.

1. Try a new genre.  Sounds simple, but trying a new genre of book can be an uncomfortably weird break in routine.  I’m moderately interested in history and science, but I’d never read a nonfiction book voluntarily until last month, when I read “Simply Jesus” by N.T. Wright.  My husband has read three or four books by him and loved all of them, but I could never get myself to read them – while the topics might be interesting, nonfiction, for me, is inherently boring.  It’s been associated in my mind with textbooks for too long.  I finally made a deal with myself: finish this book, then re-read “Hunger Games.”  I’m glad I finally read it, too, both because of its  exploration of the gospel and Wright’s ridiculously in-depth deconstruction of first-century Israel.  (The dude included his own translation of a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Yeah.)

You can go about this as broadly or specifically as you want.  For me, just reading nonfiction is enough of a stretch, but if you’re already an avid nonfiction reader, try picking a new subject.  Go into those corners of the bookstore you rarely visit and see what grabs you,

2. Read poetry.  Poetry is one of the oldest, most personal, and most varied forms of the written word.  You can find everything from ancient Hindu or Persian epics to modern haiku.  Poems require more than your casual attention, which is why many people (including me) tend to avoid them.  However, poetry is great for your brain in many ways: it can help expand your vocabular and your worldview.  Plus, you can find poetry pretty easily – it’s everywhere online, and it’s free!

3. Take on a classic.  High school required reading tends to turn people off the classics, which is a bummer, because some of them turn out to be great reads when you’re free to go at your own pace and analyze (or not) at will.  I re-read “The Great Gatsby” after high school and it became one of my favorite books.  I gave “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton a shot last year, and it turned out to be a lovely read.  Give the book you hated least in school a second chance, or ask a librarian to recommend similar works.

4. “You may also like…” Okay, these suggestions can be atrocious, especially on Amazon.  Goodreads prides itself on its recommendation machine, though, and I’ve spotted many intriguing titles related to the books I’ve reviewed.  Take a chance on one sometime.

5. Raid the library.  Take an hour and just wander the racks of your favorite genre until something catches your eye.  Ask a librarian for recommendations.  The best part about book-hunting in a library is that you can sit and read a chapter or two without anyone glaring at you for doing so.

What do you like to do to get yourself out of a reading rut?  What was your favorite discovery?

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