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The Art to a Healthy Reading Habit

Our friend Patricia Oliver, the Community Engagement Specialist in the Catawba County Library System, recently wrote the following article for the library’s e-newsletter. We liked it so much, we wanted to share it with you.

How to Pack More Books into Your Life
The Art to a Healthy Reading Habit

image001NEWTON—So many books and so little time. How can anyone be well read with all of today’s distractions?

Steve Leveen’s The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (2005) offers several solutions. Leveen’s book, 144 pages or 3.75 hours on CD, is truly a “little guide,” but a helpful one for looking for ways to pack extra lit into their waking hours. The founder of Levenger, a company that sells reader tools such as bookmarks and pens, Leveen is all about making reading simple and more enjoyable.

One of his suggestions is to take control. Books, like flavors of ice cream, are a matter of taste. So what if it was on Oprah or won a major prize? This particular subject or author simply may not be your thing, and that’s OK. Leveen gives you permission to not like every book you pick up. So should you.

New York University professor Atwood H. Townsend wrote in his Good Reading: A Helpful Guide for Serious Readers, “Never force yourself to read a book that you do not enjoy. There are so many good books in the world that it is foolish to waste time on one that does not give you pleasure and profit.” He penned that advice some seventy years ago, when America was producing about 10,000 books a year. Today the number is more like 150,000. Sheer numbers alone beg us to be more discriminating.

Reading lists can be helpful. If you hear of a particular title or read a book review, note that book and author for the next time you visit the library. Likewise, keep a log of what you’ve read. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to recall book titles and authors you’ve enjoyed and want to share. The library has several online sources, as well as the staff, to help you find good books.

At the same time, you should not feel guilty about not having read every book you own. Maturity is realizing that you may never get to certain titles. Some readers set goals to read every Pulitzer Prize winner or every book on the freshman reading lists in North Carolina universities. Those are admirable goals, but if they’re too high, they may frustrate more than motivate.

Check out audio books. Seasoned readers know that travel and exercise time can be turned into “reading” hours with CD and MP3 players. In fact, some works are more enjoyable as read by the author or a professional actor. Your library has a wide selection of these books to choose from—both in the library, and accessible online from anywhere you want to read.

Contact your local branch for additional information on finding new books to read or to learn about library events. Be sure to register for the Summer Reading Program, if you have not already. Happy Reading!


The Catawba County Library System, headquartered in Newton, NC, serves the citizens of Catawba County with seven branches throughout the county and is a year-round, integral provider of early literacy and lifelong learning. In additional to traditional services, the system provides a full complement of computer and digital services, classes and support to bridge the digital divide, empower job seekers, and enhance community quality of life and economic health.

This article has been re-printed with permission. Thanks to Patricia Oliver and the Catawba County Library System!