Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Off the Beaten Page with Deleese

My Aunty Pat loves to give books, and asked me which book might be a good gift for my beautiful mother. In response to the question, 'What does she read?' I replied, 'She knows how to read, but…'

She is just not a novel reader. After work she is simply too tired to curl up with a book. I think it also has to do with her intelligence and personality. She is just very clever, and too impatient to plow through works of fiction.

My mother's taste runs to beautiful coffee table books, and she has a huge collection. She is an amazing amateur photographer and loves books with gorgeous photos, books about royalty, history, architecture, nature, travel and geography. Being an electrical design engineer, she reads the NEC (National Electric Code), and technical support publications for the software she uses at work.

She buys newspapers, (like The Australian in the photo) and magazines about home design and improvements as well as travel, antique and architecture publications. Novels, not so much.

Do you know any really clever people who don't read books?


  1. Recommending a book is really tricky and very difficult.

  2. +JMJ+

    That's an interesting question! If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have named some of my students. =) Perfectly lovely girls with bright futures who just weren't into reading the way they were into other legitimate interests.

    Reading is a great pleasure--and the reading of really good books can even improve the character--but I've never thought that it was foremost among the pastimes.

  3. I know a lot of clever people who do not read. My ex-husband could fix anything but would never think to pick up a novel. Many of my co-workers can crunch numbers in ways I cannot fathom, yet find reading boring. I have found cleaver does not mean one has to be well read. The bigger question for me is can I relate to those who do not read? No, not really.

  4. Yes, I know some smart and educated people who do not read books. It doesn't mean that they do not read. They read on-line all sorts of websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines. They read off-line manuals, journals, reports, etc. Some of them read all day long for a living at work, and when they are no longer working, will do anything but read some more.
    I would not be able to not read books and just about anything else I can get my hands on. I would be miserable without books.

  5. Ok, Dear Readers, my mother phoned me and told me this post needs some changing. She had given permission and approved the photo, of course, but hadn't seen the text.

    She rang to tell me, gently, that the post makes me sound like I don't think intelligent people read. And she is so clever and I respect her opinion so highly, I have acted on her comment and will try to make myself clear.

    I have an image (incorrect)in my head of smart people being readers. end of story. But as a teacher and a human I do forget that there are multiple intelligences, and that our intellectual pursuits are as varied as we are.

    What I tried to express was that I consider my mother unique in that she is amazingly intelligent and yet doesn't read novels. Novels are a wonderful stimulant for our minds, as En says, but Mom doesn't read them much.

    Like Man and Sari say, these prejudices can mean that inveterate readers are hard pressed to find common ground with non readers (or choose gifts for them), but I agree with Joy: there is all kinds of reading, and ALL reading is wonderful.

  6. +JMJ+

    When I was still teaching full-time, I liked the "Four Reading Paths" model outlined in Mary Leonhardt's Keeping Kids Reading. Think of a square divided into quadrants. The two on top represent Relationship readers; the two below represent Action-Adventure readers. Then "fold" lengthwise: now the two on the right like Magical or SF elements and those on the left prefer Realistic elements.

    Now, the label "Action-Adventure reading with Realistic elements" is kind of misleading because the people in this group don't actually like fiction. They like reading stuff that actually happened or stuff that has some obvious practical application to the real world. These include history, biography, memoir, self-help, science, travelogue, do-it-yourself and other how-to books. (I'd go on and on, but I see that you've listed your mother's preferred reading already!)

    Anyway, as I told my students, liking one sort of book over another doesn't mean one is automatically a better reader. (And don't forget the days when novels were the lowest form of reading!) =)

  7. DeLynne, I think us fiction folks know what you meant. I know I have been perplexed by non-fiction readers or even fiction readers who read only one genre. It is very curious and interesting to ponder-- I bet the non-fiction readers find us just as curious.

    I know a couple of clever people who read mainly non-fiction-- one is the russian linguist-- he reads philosophy, history, crime but the only fiction he will deign to read are classics but he's missed a lot of those.

    The other is my hubby-- whose cleverness is still in question in my book ;o)-- his mom was a lit teacher so as a kid he read Anne, Tom, Huck, black beauty ect-- but as an adult he reads memoirs, special interest books and mags for all his hobbies-- he reads as much as I do and buys way more books but not fiction. BUT he did read and love Tolkien's works before I met him-- so he isn't a complete alien. He read a few thrillers on my recommendation and the Potters but he really can't attend to fiction the way he can non-fiction. I buy him non-fiction gifts and he buys me fiction.

    It can be difficult to find common ground with people who read only non-fiction or single genres-- especially for people who read both and/or many genres-- but we have more in common with them than total non-readers-- don't you think.

  8. I am so glad no one was insulted! A bit of controversy gives us something to discuss, anyway. And i will very quickly put together a post to show you just how much my mother loves to read. Not a novel in sight, though!

  9. E-- what an intriging thought: 'Reading is a great pleasure--and the reading of really good books can even improve the character--but I've never thought that it was foremost among the pastimes.'

    Hmm-- depends on the person, I suppose. I'm trying to decide if reading is my foremost pastime-- I think it might be except I seem to be blogging more than reading lately. Reading seems to be intwined with my soul even more than gardening, cooking and my other interests-- wonder what other bookworms think-- might be a good blogpost topic.

    The four reading paths is very interesting-- are there questions to answer to find which model one falls under?

    Isn't that funny that novels were considered low-- especially gothics. I learned that from my historical romance/regency days. I learned a lot of history from them actually-- bet non-fiction readers would be astounded at just how informative historicals can be.

  10. DeLynne-- Oh, bookish discussions and debates are just too much fun. Isn't it great having bookish folks to talk to?! Hip Hip Hooray for bookblogging and bookish bloggy friends!!

    Oh yes, seems like I recall your mom liking Jane Austen-- or was that just the movies? Or maybe I'm thinking of someone else altogether. Anyway, You know how curious I am-- did your mom read fiction as a kid or young adult or just always prefer non-fiction. I've been pondering lately how people's tastes in reading change over time...

  11. +JMJ+

    Well, yes, it depends upon the person. =) But in general, I wouldn't automatically elevate reading above everything else.

    As for the four Reading Paths . . . I don't recall any diagnostic questions. There are better descriptions of each Reading Path in the book, and readers usually seem to know which one they fall into.

    Of course, Leonhardt was quick to say that this model is most useful for recommending books and for figuring out why some readers don't like the books other readers are raving over. People jump reading paths all the time and have great experiences.

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