National Read a Book Day: What Are You Reading?

Happy National Read A Book Day!

One of my favorite questions to ask anyone I encounter is, "what are you reading?" Alternatively, it is one of my favorite questions to answer as well. Most of the time, I have an audiobook going and a book in hand. Currently: listening to Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist and reading The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L.Walther.

It is no secret that I listen to most of the books I read. I heard an episode of the Armchair Expert podcast hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman that completely shifted my mindset. They interviewed Joel McHale and talked through their personal struggles with dyslexia and how audiobooks had transformed them into readers by offering them an alternate way to consume content.

I am not afraid to admit I had been a little self-righteous in my thinking that books in hand were the real books and audiobooks did not count. I mean, do not count for what? Or to whom? How limited was my way of thinking?! It was not like I was reading libraries worth of books in hand. Truthfully, I was barely reading anything at all. 

When the topic of reading books comes up in conversations, people often explain to me how they have no time to read. Honestly, I am just as busy and distracted as the rest of you. By not giving myself overreaching expectations, I am knocking out a little reading day by day, and this seems to be true for so many things. Want to start meditating? Start with a minute and build. Does exercise seem too daunting a task? Try walking for five minutes. I pop my AirPods in and go about my tasks. I have done countless loads of laundry while listening to books and walked hundreds of miles with literature in my ears. Some days it is less than five minutes; others, I start and finish a book in one listen.  

The same goes for all you book purists whom I cannot lure over to the audio side. (I will never stop trying!) Keep a book with you at all times. You would be surprised how often you have a few free minutes here and there. I am ashamed of all the time I spend mindlessly scrolling on my phone when I could be reading a book.  

Another question I often receive is, 'How do I get my kids to read?' To me, this is simple. Let them read what they like. My son loved The Series of Unfortunate Events books in second grade. My daughter, who is now in second grade, loves The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels. And my almost grown 4-year-old has read How to Catch A Unicorn enough times that I think we might be on the brink of catching our very own unicorn. Little people are just like big people. We know what books are interesting to us, and unless you are reading for a grade in school, start with what you like. I believe that with kids, you can instill a love for reading early on by not putting book peer pressure on them to read what everyone else is reading. Maybe they do love the most popular books, and perhaps they enjoy magazine articles. Reading is reading, and we all know readers are leaders.

This is the one time I will not be recommending a book to you. Choose your own adventure, if you will. But there is a full year worth of recommendations in the Texarkana Magazine archives to get you started. I do hope you find a tiny shred of encouragement here to pick up a book or push play on an audiobook. Books have been a tremendous outlet for me and have enriched my life in numerous ways. And there is always a chance that if you run into me in town, I will likely ask you, 'What are you reading?' Be prepared.


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