Read it or Weep?

Why do you read what you read?

I mean, why are you even reading this? Perhaps that’s presumptuous of me. With a yawn and a click of a button you could cast this straight into the cyberspace landfill. Totally understandable. If I wasn’t laboring over this idea myself, I’d get on to more important things like ENews, viral videos, or clever, unassuming FB posts.

But I am a writer. At least I want to be. (Did I actually confess that out loud?)

“There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou

So, when stories are told. Agony shed. Why do you read it?

Or do you?

In the digital age, words and images shoot past our eyes at lightning speed. We can access anything we want – whenever we want. What compels someone to take a minute or an hour or an entire afternoon to sit and actually read something? And not just speed read. I mean really let the words permeate; like the message itself just might enhance your life. Or change it. Or challenge it. Or…

My Gmail inbox is chock FULL of emails vying for my attention. And I’m not even gainfully employed. I am however, a stay at home mom who may jump at the chance to “save” an extra 68% on Zulily even though I no longer have babies at home. You can’t fault companies for trying.

Every. Single. Solitary. Day. Here’s to you Sierra Trading Post and other royalty of direct marketing.

Some emails are junk. Some are worthwhile reads. Some convey necessary information about school work or sports practice. But many — oh so many — bait and switch me into giving away hours of my life I can never get back. I rue the day I decided to give out my actual email address instead of some alternate one for online offers. I know – first world problems.

The question remains: How do I discern what to read, what to file, what to forward and what to archive? (Archive is just a fancy way of saying “trash” because you can always dig it out again if you want to. Kinda like George Costanza and the “archived” chocolate éclair. Man I miss that show.)

With the perpetual barrage of blog posts, status updates, tweets, hash tags, magazines, ebooks, and the stack of old school paperbacks ever mounting on my bedside table — how do I decide what I read and what I don’t?

When I actually pick up a book, what makes me want to FINISH it? I have run out of bookmarks because they are all housed half way through various books in my repertoire – never to return to the light of day.

If you actually made it this far, congratulations! You have a formidable attention span.

May I now ask you for a great big honkin’ favor? Will you indulge me and my writer/bloggy friends and fill out this brief survey?

** If you leave a comment here on my blog or on my FB wall – your name will be entered to be chosen at random (Scout’s honor!) to receive a $10 Starbucks gift card. After all, it is the holidays and there’s nothing that says I want to escape from the retail rat race like a Pumpkin Spice Latte or a Peppermint Mocha.

Here goes —

1. What is the best book you’ve read in the last year? Meaning you’d actually recommend it or dare I say, purchase it for another.

2. What are three adjectives you’d use to describe said book?

3. How do you prefer to read material? (Online – blogs, emails, articles), actual chapter books (You can tell I have grade-schoolers in my house), or some other way?

4. Major bonus points for adding any flavor to this discussion!

When art is released into the world of words, what makes you want to stop and stay a while?

From one who wonders…

PS — If you want to feel lighter, forget shedding pounds. Shed agony.


  1. Heather Heath says:

    1. Sacred Influence
    2. Gut-punch, honest, holy-rendering
    3. Hard-cover book (love the old smelly ones), blogs
    4. Nice job! And to answer why from my perspective…when someone you know is interesting, intriguing, or emulates beauty…I want to read it. It’s awe-inspiring to read someone’s blog and actually feel like you can see their heart palpate.
    Hugs to you!


  2. I love to read! And I can never pick just one best book…they are all the best when I read them because I’ve connected to them in some way, or I quit reading them. Here’s my answers to your questions.

    1. Normally I’m a voracious reader but much of the last year has been spent in transition and I’m just getting back to my normal speed of reading. The last three books I’ve read are: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, Plan B by Pete Wilson, The Wall Around Your Heart by Mary DeMuth. I’ll choose Plan B as my favorite for the purposes of this discussion and because there’s nothing like a book title that just describes your current state of life!

    2. Timely, accurate, engrossing

    3. I love books…real books. I love to hold them in my hand, turn the pages, write in the ones I’m going to keep and refer back to. That being said, I can’t own every book on the planet so I love my iPad, along with nook and Kindle apps.

    4. I will say that any writer has a short time to get my attention. There is just too much out there to read and process, so if you don’t grab me right away then I’ll move on. That means for a highly recommended book, I’ll give you 2-3 chapters. For a blog or online article, you’ve got a few sentences. And for a blog, I need to be able to read the font. Some people post in such script-y fonts or such small fonts that my 50-something eyes have trouble reading it even with reading glasses. You also need to get to the point pretty quickly in a blog post. I struggle with wordiness – probably all writers do. But if you can’t say what you need to say in a blog post in less than 1000 words, it might need to be a series!


  3. Book: Love, love the book John Adams. I purchased it and read it.

    Adjectives: Well-written, Moved my Spirit, Educational

    How: Chapter Book (I still take my Bible to church when many around me have it on their Smart Phones

    I love books that MOVE me and COMPEL me to take action. Sometimes that action may only be sharing it with others, but sometimes it compels me to change something in my own life or to take steps to do something I might not want to do.

    I want my books to have value…sometimes that value is simply to bring me escape from day-to-day stuff…relaxation and pleasure. And after I read that book, I want another one just like it to take me to that same relaxing place.

    Great questions.




    • I totally use my Bible at church, too!! I know the smart phone or iPad is convenient and it’s all scripture. But I sure like my Bible that I can write in, see previous notes I’ve made, and can literally feel the words on the page!


  4. 1. A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. (I’ve already bought 5 copies for friends.)
    2. paradigm-altering, healing, epiphany-provoking
    3. Many books, I now own in audio (so I can listen in the car or on the elliptical), Kindle (so I can take all my best friends with me on my iPad when I travel), and hardback/paperback (so I can highlight and annotate and hold and smell them while I read.)
    4. Finishing is over-rated, at least when it comes to books. And I usually start with the last chapter, anyhow. (Ducking and running!)


    • Becky Dirksen says:

      1. The Liver and Galbladder Miracle Cleanse (by Andrea Moritz)
      2. Life-saving in a world of food that kills our basic filter in our bodies… our liver.
      Understandable – it’s written so that even I can understand it!
      Applicable – tells exactly how to get your health back
      3. You know, I’ve bought this book for a couple friends, and I definitely prefer a paperback. It seems more real to me, and I like to mark it up and hold it.
      4. It may seem strange that a reference type book would be my favorite, however our family has struggle with autism, allergies, migraines, you name it. I won’t be able to enjoy other books if I don’t have my health. Just can’t wait until I’m done nursing so I can go get my colonic hydrotherapy!! (you will probably only understand that desire if you dare to read this awesome book!)


  5. Kara says:

    1. Switch…. or a Empires, Families and Nations (by Anne Hyde of Colorado College!) can’t decide between two very different genres!
    2. Mind-opening, heart-swelling … and good, nuanced characters in fiction and non-fiction.
    3. I love real books, but the iPad has revolutionized my ability to read new books in English! On road trips, I love audio books read by the author. (If you’ve never listened to Angela’s Ashes with all the right accents and melodies, you’re missing half the book!)

    4. I love most literary fiction– and even a lot of young adult fiction (Hunger Games, Harry Potter, random 5th grade historical fiction) but I can only read them when I have time to fully immerse myself. For more tempered reading, I’m loving learning history and politics and neurology and sociology. When I can’t read, I listen to TED talks and NPR!


  6. Jessica Leichter says:

    1. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. A lady I babysat for recommended it to me, and I was immediately hooked. It was one of those books you think about long after you’ve finished reading.

    2. Heart wrenching, compelling, unique

    3. I do a lot of reading online (mostly blogs and news), but I really prefer actual books I can touch and hold. Something about turning an actual page, smelling the book, and seeing my progress when I place the bookmark is very fulfilling.

    4. This sounds bad, but I’m attracted to beautiful things. Good fonts and format on websites are important, because if it’s not easy and enjoyable to read, I give up. I tend to read books that look, feel, and smell nice. HOW the reading is presented is almost as important as WHAT I’m reading. It’s all about presentation for me.


  7. jillberan says:

    Book – Lord Foulgrin’s Letters by Randy Alcorn – I’m usually not much a fiction reader but a friend recommended this and it’s been very good and eye opening.
    Adjectives – Attention getting, educational, applicable
    I love real books, but also spend time reading a few blogs.
    As a mom with 5 kids I wish I had more time to read books of my choice, but am finding I can enjoy and learn from theirs as well!!


  8. Scott Nilsen says:

    The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni
    Three adjectives: Foundational, Humbling, Necessary
    Chapter Books, old school, paper and all.
    I wish there was an email junk filter that actually filtered out poor writing. I mean, how great would it be to raise the bar on written communication by using a “You didn’t put enough effort into that email so it was filed with all the other poorly written pieces of communication” filter? That would require folks to think a little more before they say (I mean write) something and would directly impact the number of incoherent and unnecessary emails that land in my inbox. I know it would drastically cut down on the number of emails I send and therefore increase the joy quotient of said recipients of my email barrages. Oh what a wonderful world that would be…


  9. 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp

    Three adjectives: refreshing, challenging, eye opening

    I love to read the old fashioned way, with a paper book in my hands. But I also am starting to enjoy reading blogs. I especially love reading blogs by friends so that I can have a deeper peek into their hearts and minds. I love reading blogs written by others who share similar struggles. And I love reading blogs about healthy cooking and yummy kid friendly food. I get really tired of trying to discern what my kids will like and it’s very refreshing to get new ideas so that I don’t have to strain my brain!!


  10. teamnilsen says:

    Oh my goodness! I’ve never received this many responses in my life. So great! Thanks for your feedback. And I am SO wanting a heck of a lot more time in my schedule so I can read each of the books you reference. Maybe that will be my 2014 resolution… As for the Starbucks card, I’ll draw on Friday so keep ’em coming!


  11. Jennifer Holz says:

    Life of Pi
    Fantastical, lonely, faith-stretching
    Good old chapter books, Megan!

    I wish I had the capacity to write something really creative here, but our toaster oven caught on fire tonight, the house reeks of smoke and Henry keeps crying because he’s not going to have toast for breakfast.WNeedless to say, I’m toast!


  12. Awesome Auntie Alice says:

    Loved The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
    Historical, Informative, Well written.
    I loke to read REALIO TRULIO books. But when I travel I use my Nook.
    I also LOVE to read childrens picture books. Anything by Mo Willems tickles me. I love to see all the illustrators different styles.
    And I like Young Adult books. And I HATE poorly written books.
    I could live with my face in a book all day every day. Sometimes I do!

    And I love your blog and Katies Blog and AlwaysJacked written by the son in law of a friend about parenting. Neat that a father takes the time for that.


  13. Kristen Brittain says:

    1. Confidence of a Champion–becoming who you were created to be by letting go of lies from the past by Tim Marks (leadership/self improvement genre)

    2. Truth, Thought provoking/Deep, Life changing.

    3. I’m all about chapter books, theres just something about a hard copy book, plus I love to underline highlight, and write my thoughts in the margins. This book includes exercises in each chapter to help you process the information and personalize it. If you take the time to really think about and answer the questions, you will be changed for the better.

    4. One of my favorite quotes from the book: “It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life; it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power”–Robert Kiyosaki. What are you telling yourself on a daily basis? What are you filling your mind with? (hopefully is positive uplifting encouraging words and good books, not TV)

    Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    If we learn to recognize our God given worth, stop comparing, manage our self talk, take action, cut our anchors and fight fear with faith, we WILL have the confidence of a champion to be ourselves and become all we were created to be. (This is not an easy task for sure…but a worthwhile challenge!

    Keep reading my friends! Thanks for sharing your favorite books 🙂


Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: