August 11, 2010

How many books do you have on the go? Are you one of those people who start to read a good book, but then never finish it? Or do you read a book from cover to cover before starting another? Or are you one who reads several books at the same time?

There have been, over my life, many authors whom I’ve enjoyed immensely, and to date, still do. My crazy schedule and Facebook have seen some of that precious reading time erode slowly over the years. I still enjoy reading, but just don’t have as much time to do so these days.

One of my favourite authors is Stephen King. Way back when, I watched “Carrie”, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. After that, I decided to read the book. Personally, I found the book more interesting. I have found that, just as my English teachers in the past mentioned, reading books is a lot more imaginative than watching a movie. Sure, watching a movie is quick, you get the information, but then again, you get SOMEONE else’s interpretation of the story. When you read a book, you only have your imagination of the events.

Another movie that I remember watching was “Tron”. Probably won’t be a pop culture movie, however, it did do one thing – it helped me to understand, visually, the workings of a computer. After that, I decided to read the book. I actually found the book rather boring. I couldn’t visualize the computer and the characters as well as the movie had done.

However, back to books. When I was in school, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate, we were required to read books by authors such as William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. In English literature, these two in particular seem to be a favourite of English teachers to impose on their students. The language is ‘olde’ English, many words are now considered archaic, and the writing style just isn’t how we speak today. It took a lot of work to understand these writings.

However, in the past few years, well actually, since coming to Taiwan, I have had this insatiable appetite for Charles Dickens. One of the bookstores in Tainan (and Taiwan) that carry English schoolbooks as well as literary works, carries a wide range of ‘the classics’. These stories are the original works, still using the ‘olde’ English, and at a very reduced cost! Makes it a bit more appealing to decide to re-read some of the works that I couldn’t understand in high school.

Mind you, Charles Dickens is not easy material to just pick up and read. It takes a while to get into the writing style. However, now that I’ve read about a dozen of his books, it does get easier. It’s also interesting in another way. I’m learning some new words – believe it or not. Granted, as mentioned above, some of these words are archaic by today’s standards, but they are still words. It’s also interesting to note how some of these words have changed.

One of my favourite examples that I use with students, is the word betwixt. Now, this word is not used any longer – at least not in everyday language. Sure, it is perfectly fine to use it, and it would not be considered wrong. However, by today’s usage, we now say between. Why? I don’t know. It is interesting though, to see how the language has changed, even over 150 years.

I try to encourage my students to read more than just the inane materials provided by their schools to learn English. I encourage them to read articles on the internet in English, to read novels, or at times, some higher level material just to get them to understand how English is spoken.

At present, I have four books on the go. I’ve read, with students, all the Harry Potter books, but am still stuck on Chapter 1 of the last one, “Deathly Hallows”. One of Stephen King’s latest, “Everything’s Eventual”. A collection of works by Edgar Allan Poe, and a Charles Dickens novel, although the title escapes me right now.

My [procrastinated] problem these days, is finding the time to read these books. I used to read a chapter before going to sleep at night. Now with so many classes, Facebook, and this blog, I’m finding that a lot more of my time is spent on writing, and not so much on reading.


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