Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Finally--My Book Addiction Pays Off!

Researchers in Toronto have concluded that reading fiction leads to stronger people skills. They found that people who read fiction scored higher on tests of empathy and social acumen than those who read nonfiction. They believe that fiction might act as a simulator...when people read about fictional characters solving problems or having adventures, they might be better able to face those issues in real life. Read more about the research here.
I've been a book lover since I was a child, and I didn't require much convincing for an admired Advanced Composition professor to get me to change my major from education to English. I realize how lucky I am to be one of the few English majors out there in the world to actually use my degree and education in my work. I get to read and write all day long, although very little of it is fiction!

I am one of those people who will read the back of the cereal box if that's all that is in front of me. At times, I do think that my reading addiction keeps me from enjoying real life instead. But I can't help it. I know that there are far more worse addictions to have.

And in tribute of my obsession and this recent research about the benefits of novels, here are a few of my favorite book-oriented places and some good book quotes.

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." —Marcus Tullius Cicero

"Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance."— Lyndon Baines Johnson

"For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die." — Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird)

"Read me a book and I'll be entertained for a day, teach me to read and I'll have a nervous breakdown when I realize I can't read every book I see." — Drew Goodman

Best Hotel for Book Lovers
The Sylvia Beach Hotel is a wonderfully quaint and eclectic hotel, with each room designed in honor of a different author. It's our favorite couples' getaway. Favorite rooms are Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. One day we will splurge and stay in one of the top-notch, corner suites (Colette, Agatha Christie, or Mark Twain). For now we content ourselves with the midprice rooms, all with views of the ocean and en suite bathrooms. No phones, no televisions, an oceanview library on the 3rd floor with comfy chairs and that serves hot spiced wine at 10 p.m. and coffee and tea at all other times, an restaurant that prepares exquisite and affordable seven-course meals, and time to read and relax. Indescribably wonderful! If you haven't yet discovered the Sylvia Beach Hotel, I highly encourage you to check it out! (Not only is it quite a romantic spot, but they also have an insanely inexpensive dorm room, for singles or anyone who is wanting a cheap, great place to stay!)

Mike outside the hotel on our last visit--too long ago!

Reading in a comfy chair in the library--pregnant with Nicholas!

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey)

"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. "—Mark Twain

"I have always imagined that paradise will be some kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." — Louisa May Alcott

"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?" — Henry Ward Beecher

"A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe." — Madeleine L'Engle

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." — Lemony Snicket

Best Bookstores in Portland

When it comes to brick-and-mortar bookstores, I have many favorites, but two are at the top of the list. We are very lucky to be living within walking distance of one of the best bookstores in Portland, Annie Bloom's in Multnomah Village. Then of course there's Portland's great institution, Powell's. I never get enough time in either of these stores!

Inside venerable Powell's Bookstore

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life." — Walt Disney

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive." — James Baldwin

"A house without books is like a room without windows." — Heinrich Mann

"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library." — Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

"You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. " — Paul Sweeney

"Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I'll have a long beard by the time I read them." — Arnold Lobel

"In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." — Unknown

"You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?" — Mark Twain

The Best County Library System in the Country

(The Multnomah County Library system has the highest circulation of any library in the United States, and Central Library is the oldest library west of the Mississippi.) The only way I can afford my book habit is to use the library HEAVILY and stock up on paperbacks at our local school's annual used book sale. I rarely buy books for myself, but instead for others. I have a great system for the library--I put the books on hold online, and Mike and the kids are my free delivery service! Here's a shot of the lobby and stairwell of our beautiful neighborhood Hillsdale Library:

"What really knocks me out is a book, when you're all done reading it, you wished the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." -- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

"A book is a garden you can carry in your pocket" — Arabian Proverb

"One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures. " — George W. Bush (couldn't resist adding this one!)

"Take no heed of her.... She reads a lot of books." — Jasper Fforde (The Eyre Affair)

"Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book." — Jane Smiley

""The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night." " — Isabel Allende

"The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books." — Katherine Mansfield

"All the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. ... But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not." — Nick Hornby

"I was with book, as a woman is with child." — C. S. Lewis

"The world was hers for the reading." — Betty Smith

"Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for." — Alice Walker

Best Web Sites for Voracious Readers

And finally, I have two wonderful web sites that are great sources of book ideas and books themselves: and If you want to know more about how these sites work, read this post.

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world." — Phillip Pullman

"Only bad books have good endings. If a book is any good, it's ending is always bad - because you don't want the book to end." — Pseudonymous Bosch

"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps

"I can think of few better ways to introduce a child to books than to let her stack them, upend them, rearrange them, and get her fingerprints all over them." — Anne Fadiman

I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” — Anna Quindlen

I thought it fitting to end with this quote, because Mike and I--both English majors--have by nature and habit instilled the love of books and reading into all three of our boys. We started reading to them as babies, and I had to laugh when Chris was in kindergarten and all of the parents were admonished to read to their children for 30 minutes a day.

Many of my complaints about clutter and chaos in our household relate to the large number of books we have, both ones we all own and ones we get from the library. I'm forever weeding out our books and posting them on paperbackswap or donating the more well-used ones to Goodwill (much to my children's dismay)...but they multiply quickly! But I do know that I could have far worse problems than too many books!

Go forth and read (and improve your people skills)!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I love that fiction can improve people skills. Sounds like we could all use a healthy dose of fiction!