This Metaphorical Bar ep. 2: What We Wish We Knew About Reading

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Who Are We?

Carla M. Lee: An author, artist, and attorney living in the Midwest USA with my partner and ridiculous dog who is trying to climb into my lap even though she’s far too big.

Karen Healey: An author and teacher living in Christchurch, New Zealand, and one time I ate three mangoes in a row.

Robyn Fleming: My kids are both back in school four mornings a week and it’s AWESOME. What is not awesome is that my air conditioner keeps breaking, and I live in Tucson, Arizona.

Episode Summary

Topic: What we wish we knew about reading.

  • You don’t have to finish a book if you don’t want to. However, before you stop, ask yourself why you aren’t connecting with it, or don’t like it, or don’t want to finish it. If it is impenetrable, is there something you can do to reach it? This is particularly important when reading from a place of privilege. Even if a book is not written for you, that doesn’t make it a bad book or that it’s not important for you to try to connect with it. Different ways of storytelling might not be immediately accessible to you, but try it anyway.
  • You don’t have to love a book and the characters; you can dislike everything about it and still want to finish it and get important things out of it.
  • Just because you have to work hard at reading some books doesn’t make them not worth reading.
  • Sometimes you aren’t in the right place to click with a book, and that’s okay (e.g., not the right age, doesn’t speak to your experience, etc.). Just because other people connect with it and you don’t doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. Especially if it is Classic Literature as taught in USA/UK/New Zealand/Australia/etc., not enjoying it is not necessarily a reflection on you.
  • Not reading books doesn’t mean that you aren’t a reader and aren’t smart and educated.
  • Don’t limit yourself to thinking only Classic Literature by straight white rich men is important and everything else is “extra.” The “classic” education is narrow, and there are important works being done outside that narrow perspective.
  • You don’t always need to spend a lot of time worrying about not reading Classic Literature because so many of those stories are already privileged in western culture. You know them. You’ve read or seen or heard adaptations, which can be wonderful alternatives. A Christmas Carol, for example, is in all sorts of things, from Point Horror to Sweet Valley to the Muppets.
  • Audio books are real books and real reading. Reading to each other, listening to books read to you, those are wonderful things to do, good for kids and adults alike, and good for bonding.
  • Reading is a political act. No choice is made in a vacuum.

Episode Links

Ask Your Friendly Neighborhood Bartender

Anonymous: What is one thing you’ve done lately that makes you proud?

Karen

Decided she was too busy to do anything for her birthday and it was okay to decide that she wanted to reject the obligation to be social, stay at home, cook a steak, drink really good champagne, and proud of herself for knowing she can just be chill by herself and have a great time.

Robyn

Had been doing all her writing in a coworking space that shut down, which meant she lost all her routines for getting work done, but the past couple weeks, with Karen’s help because they’re writing together, Robyn has managed to do a little writing 5/7 days and this feels like a huge deal.

Carla 

Been volunteering with Crisis Text Line in the USA (divisions opening in Canada and the UK) — it’s hard to do, to talk to strangers while they’re hurting — no individual sentence or conversation is a huge deal, but the overall connection is a reminder that little things matter — listening without judgment especially.

Find Us Online

Carla: @carlamlee on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram 

Karen: @kehealey on Twitter, @karenhealey on Tumblr 

Robyn: @robyn_writing on Twitter

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