Advice for a Well-Balanced Reading Diet; 1937 &1903

Advice for a Well-Balanced Reading Diet; 1937 &1903

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From 1937–

I try to read one book every two weeks–and 25 books a year can do much to brighten and make interesting a practical, overworked housewife.

I try to vary my reading diet, for I believe the menu for our minds should be as well balanced as the menu for our tummies. So I include four types of mental food from which I choose:

  1. Non-fiction (biography, travel, etc.)
  2. Poetry (or plays)
  3. Worth-while fiction (perhaps something old and tried, or perhaps something new)
  4. Light fiction (which may include anything at all even to detective stories if I am so inclined! This is dessert!)

I choose from these four types in order, then start all over again.

I can’t tell you what this plan has meant to me. I think I’m becoming better educated than I was, I know I’m becoming happier and more interesting and you know, there’s nothing like interest and happiness to erase lines from one’s face!

I love this plan. Growing up, my sisters and I were only allowed to check out 1 Nancy Drew book for every 4 books we borrowed from the library. Of course, we read each other’s Nancy Drew books but we always settled into the more substantial books, too. 

As an adult, it’s easy to get into a rut and only read “dessert” books after a long, stressful day but during some seasons in life, that’s the best you can do. This winter I’m making myself read Vanity Fair by William Thackeray–10 pages a day–before I can read other books. (Not that Vanity Fair is torture, but some parts are slow and it takes concentration.) The mystery novels of Carolyn Wells have been my choice of dessert this winter.  She was an author writing in the early 1900s and why she’s largely unknown nowadays, I can’t comprehend! I just finished reading this entire collection. 

And this tidbit is from 1903–Of  course, the quotes below would apply to women as well as men.

“What shall I read?” This is an important question to all, and especially to those living in country homes, for those having few associates are influenced much more by what they read, where books become real companions, either to elevate or degrade. Let us be very careful in the selection of our books, not selecting a book that is simply harmless, but choose those that will broaden and ennoble our lives.

It can be truly said, “Show me what a person reads and I can tell what sort of man he is.” How many times we read of boys leaving all that is good and pure, leading dissolute lives, often guilty of grave crimes, who were led to such lives by reading pernicious books. And again how many times the reading of a good book has turned the scale in persons’ lives and they have become noble, helpful men, whose lives are an inspiration to all.

Watch a child, that has few young companions, during the time he is reading such a book as “Little Men.” See how he lives with the characters of the book; he enjoys all their sports, feels all their sorrows; in fact, his imaginative life becomes as real to him as his real life is. Knowing all this one begins to realize the great influence of books.

For older readers in the field of fiction we find too many good authors to mention their names; but we would say in selecting a book, remember to accept nothing that is unreal or sensational, which gives a young person a too romantic or sentimental view of life.

2 Replies on “Advice for a Well-Balanced Reading Diet; 1937 &1903

    1. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your blog, A Lady’s Code. Etiquette for ladies is such an uncommon subject but so needed! Your warm and instructive writing is a pleasure to read. I urge all of our readers to visit Nancy’s blog. aladyscode.com Thanks for your comment, Nancy!

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