What Are You Reading?

Suddenly, books are scary – again. Books, those things that were going to disappear thanks to technology, are in the forefront of our awareness again. Discussions of banning books, removing books from school libraries, and even book burning are all over the internet. Which points out the irony of trying to get rid of physical books when so much is available online.

But I’m not writing today about the politics of book burning. I’m writing about the fact that I had never heard about Art Spiegelman’s book Maus: A Survivor’s Tale until the publicity and furor around a Tennessee school board’s consideration of its appropriateness. Similarly, I only learned about Isabel Wilkerson’s book The Warmth of Other Suns which is about the migration Black people from the South to the North, when her newest book, Caste, was published. But that’s one of the challenging realities of the world today. There’s so much out there it’s easy to miss important books, breaking news stories, or even thought-provoking movies or television shows.

I was in my first semester of law school when the US Embassy in Iran was attacked. Our Torts professor who regularly polled the class on a variety of topics, asked what we thought the US response should be to the taking of hostages. My friend seated next to me leaned over and asked, “What hostages? What embassy? What’s he talking about?” Between law school work and having a three-year old, she had completely missed one of the biggest news stories of the year. I suspect many of you can relate to her story. And the pandemic has made keeping track of all that is going on more and more difficult.

So, let’s turn to the question in the title, what are you reading? Please don’t hide your head in shame if you don’t have a ‘good’ answer to that question. The reality is that it’s difficult to find the time or the energy to sit down and read a book. I’m always reading, but I don’t read like I used to. Should I use that half hour to keep up with the news, read a useful blog, or pick up a book? Should that book be professional or important or just escapism? And I don’t have small ones at home. Nor in my current work world, do I have the level of emergencies and even urgencies that most of you do. Reading can feel like one more thing on the endless to-do list.

And yet, I’m here to challenge all of us to think more about reading and about what we read. We take reading what we want, when we want it, for granted – until someone tries to take it away. Then we realize how precious reading is. In Texas this week, the lieutenant governor is using the idea of teaching critical race theory as a reason to attack tenure. Academic freedom is not only the freedom to teach, but to read and to explore. The instinct to stop students from reading Maus or learning about race in America is antithetical to this ideal.

What’s in your To Be Read pile or list? Whether it’s work related or not, fiction or non-fiction, here’s a challenge for us all – let’s don’t take our freedom to read as we choose for granted and pick up a book to read. Like anything else that matters, sometimes we have to work to fit it into our busy lives.

Remember, “Reading is FUNdamental”. What are you reading?

Take care,


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