Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Reader’s Resolution

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 6:00 AM

I have a confession to make. Though I call myself a writer, I feel like a fraud, and I need to get this off my chest, unburden my soul and move forward.

This month, the Pew Research Center reported that 23 percent of American adults did not crack open a book last year, either the "e" kind or the dead-tree kind. That's nearly three times as many nonreaders as in 1978, the year The Stand, The World According to Garp and Clifford the Big Red Dog were published.

Guess what? I have to count myself as one of those nonreaders. To make matters worse, last year I purchased several books, signed by their authors, and they are just sitting on my bookshelf. I feel like Jay Gatsby. (And, yes, I did read that one, years ago.)

So what's worse than that? I participated in World Book Night in 2012, picked up a case of 20 copies of Dave Eggers' Zeitoun and distributed them. You guessed it: I didn't read that one either.

It really hit me when John Green was a guest on WFYI's No Limits last week. No, I haven't read him yet. Yes, I really like his videos. Here's a critically acclaimed writer who lives in the same city as me, and I haven't read a single word he's written. What if I bump into him? I can picture a scene similar to college where I didn't finish the reading assignment, went to class and had to talk in depth about the first 10 pages.

I hate making excuses for things, but when you read, write and edit online stories all day, sometimes the last thing you want to do is read a book. "Hogwash!" I then tell myself.

So, lucky for me I always start my New Year's resolutions on Groundhog's Day. (I figure it gives me a chance to ease into them, and it gives the gym a chance to clear out from the hordes of over-exuberant former high school jocks.)

I also have motivation from two sources. First, Indianapolis Star reporter Michael Anthony Adams issued his #Read26Indy challenge, encouraging us to read a book every two weeks throughout 2014. Next, my friend Abraham Benrubi started a book group to share our love of reading. So, no more excuses.

click to enlarge sbw_blog_by_huge_image_2_for_feb_5.jpg

Here's a list of 10 books to start on the path back to regular reading:

  • The Last Policeman by Ben Winters. I'm halfway through this police procedural set in a time when an asteroid is hurtling toward the earth.

    • Countdown City by Ben Winters. This is the sequel that came out last year. Ben lives in Indy, by the way.

    • Jennifer Egan's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad. I met Jennifer when she spoke at Butler last year. During her talk, I was inspired by the risks she took, including a chapter presented in PowerPoint.

    • The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I like to read a book before the movie comes out, especially if it's set in Indy. It was the same for me with Hoosier Dan Wakefield's Going All the Way. Unlike that 1997 flick, Stars' film adaptation was filmed in Pittsburg, but that's another issue.

    • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Whenever a woman complains that she doesn't understand men, I tell her, "Read High Fidelity." ALWD also has a movie version coming out, which is exciting because Hornby's books translate well to the big screen.

    • The aforementioned Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.

    • Proxy by C. Alexander London. I was hanging out at Big Hat Books one afternoon when this author just popped in. London was in town for a wedding and killing time. We ended up grabbing lunch and becoming Twitter friends.

    • Snapper by Brian Kimberling. I went to his reading at Big Hat. His book is set in Southern Indiana and was well-regarded critically last year.

    • The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster. He's one of my favorite authors. I loved his New York Trilogy, and I'm halfway through this one.

    • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. You should vary the styles of books you read, so why not this examination of success by a great thinker? The first two chapters just blew me away, and I'm excited to see what else Gladwell lays out.

      So that's 10 books to get me going. What are some books you're itching to start or finish?

      Now, that I've begun reading regularly, my next resolution is to work on regular creative writing.

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About The Author

Hugh Vandivier

Hugh Vandivier

Hugh Vandivier is an online editor for Angie’s List. He’s a proud alum and volunteer for Wabash College, holds an MSJ from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and was a board member and director of grassroots arts nonprofit Primary Colours. He also interviewed Indy native Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in 2002.

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