Yesterday for the Public Libraries module we had a class on Reader Development, and the promotion of reading for pleasure. Of course libraries aren’t just about books, but they do play an important role in developing readers.
What is Reader Development?
“the self-chosen process of wishing to develop your own reading, to get more out of reading and to use it for personal development.” (Opening The Book)
There is an importance placed on intervention, increasing choices for readers, shared activity between readers, reader-centred promotion, and recognising the creative role of the reader – readers need writers, but writers need readers!
Librarians often can recommend non-fiction, without having read it, but it’s not so easy with fiction. We tend to be nervous about it, and fall back on personal taste. The criteria for judgement is different; non-fiction is good if it is up-to-date and accurate, for example. But, it was argued in class, we should celebrate the fact everyone reads differently, so there is a wealth of knowledge about different genres within library staff.
Some of the things we discussed in class were why do you read?, and think of your own reasons for reading, at different times.
Why do I read?
I am definitely in the reading for pleasure camp. Always have been. Reading, for me, is escapism. I guess this is especially reflected in the fact I read a lot of science fiction and dystopia.
My reasons for reading at different times
When I was a kid, I had a very active imagination. Reading was a way to foster and nurture my imagination, and transport me to a different world.
A lot of my current reading is for my masters. This can mean I’m often all read out by the time I get to read something for pleasure! However, I always try to make time to read before bed. I don’t like to go straight from computer to pillow. I need to wind down, and reading is a way for me to do this (except when it’s too exciting and you end up staying up way too late!).
An important part of reader development is shared activity between readers – talking to people about the books you’ve read, making recommendations. Most of the discussion about books I tend to have with my sisters and my boyfriend. I often read books on my older sister’s suggestions, though she always recommends books that are heart-wrenchingly sad (His Dark materials, The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Hunger Games, the list goes on). Recently, I also discuss reading with some course mates, partly because it’s related to my dissertation, and also to get ideas and share opinions and thoughts.
My own recommendations
These are a selection of books I’ve read recently, and books I’ve read in the past, and really enjoyed. I could, of course, go on for days, so bear in mind this is a heavily edited list! (All images from Amazon UK)
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
I read this a few months ago. I find Wyndham’s writing to be very accessible, and that’s the main reason why I’m recommending his work. ‘Triffids is particularly excellent, and really quite scary! What I love about Wyndham’s novels is that they could happen, and the reactions of the characters are very realistic and true-to-life.
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
Another recent read. NOTHING LIKE THE FILM. The protagonist in no way resembles Will Smith.
This is very much a story of one man, slowly going mad from loneliness and despair. The best vampire book I’ve ever read. In fact, it’s so different it doesn’t really even compare.
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
Oh God, I have never felt so raw and emotional after a book as with The Road. The story of a man and his son, travelling across post-nuclear apocalypse America, to find safety, and escape constant and escalating danger. Incredible sad, incredible evocative, incredible moving.
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Young adult dystopia. You may have seen/heard about the film due out 23rd March. In post-apocalyptic America, now called Panem, children are sleected to fight to the death, for the entertainment of the Capitol, and to keep the population under control after unsuccessful revolutions years before. Fast-paced, and moving.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on why you read, and of course your recommendations!