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Just for Fun > Do you consider yourself well-read?

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message 1: by Carmen (new)

Carmen A good friend asked me the other day if I consider myself well-read. I read around 40 books a year (although this year I'm aiming for 60) and enjoy a wide range of subjects. I read both fiction, and non-fiction, but rarely read the classics. At this point I would probably consider myself a frequent reader, as opposed to someone who is well-read. I'm curious what criteria you would use to label someone as well-read, and if you consider yourself well-read?


Elizabeth (Alaska) I love your designation "frequent reader", which I think applies to me rather than well-read. (But I'm better-read than a few short years ago - is "better-read" on the way to well-read?)


message 3: by Anne (new)

Anne  (prttynpnk) I've read classics- by most peoples definition- but I tend to run more toward 'never going to be classics' I would say I read more biblio-pop-culture than I could consider to be well-read!


message 4: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Elizabeth wrote: "I love your designation "frequent reader", which I think applies to me rather than well-read. (But I'm better-read than a few short years ago - is "better-read" on the way to well-read?)"

I think better-read is definitely on the way to becoming well-read! In fact, it is probably the only way to achieve "well-read" status - one quality book after another.






message 5: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (kathrynh) Elizabeth wrote: "I love your designation "frequent reader", which I think applies to me rather than well-read. (But I'm better-read than a few short years ago - is "better-read" on the way to well-read?)"

I like your comment and it best describes me I think. I just love that I enjoy reading. I find the older I get the more diversified my reading becomes.




message 6: by Bloomin’ChickJo (last edited Feb 19, 2010 02:05PM) (new)

Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) Great question Carmen! I would say that compared with popular definitions, I am not well read though I have read many of the "classics" and "standards." I read what I love and have eclectic tastes so personally I feel I'm fairly well read on/in my own terms!


message 7: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments Great way to put it Jo! I am also Well Read on my own terms!! :)


Elizabeth (Alaska) I'm interested in the other part of the question: "I'm curious what criteria you would use to label someone as well-read . . ."

One of the reasons I wouldn't consider myself well-read is because I read very little non-fiction. I do read some classics, but I'm not in the least interested in science fiction. Is it simply diversity that makes a person well-read?


message 9: by Mandy Sue (new)

Mandy Sue (mettakaruna) | 811 comments I believe I am well-read in the areas that interest me.

I live for information and when I am interested in something, I have to read, disect, analyze, then finally digest everything on it until I see it from every angle. Then I move onto the next thing I enjoy.

The same method is used with my reading style. I will get fixated on either a certain genre, author or detail in a book and I will seek out others similar until I have absorbed enough of the information that I am willing to move on.

I have a wide range of subjects that I enjoy and I can read on any topic with an open mind. I may not have read many off of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before you Die, but that's because they don't interest me or I just haven't gotten around to them yet. There are many other books that tend to get overlooked that deserve a bit more credit. Those are the best of all the jewels. Just like a rocket scientist or doctor, you can only do well in the area that interests you.


message 10: by Mandy Sue (new)

Mandy Sue (mettakaruna) | 811 comments To be well-read a person is informed, cultured, and knowledgeable in a broad range of topics. The more one reads, the more ideas they encounter, helping them to empathize with others, express their thoughts and feelings, and make better choices in life.

So diversity in subjects is definitely a plus but it doesn't mean you have to read a lot of non-fiction or classics. Just a broad range of topics that one can do just through fiction reading ca make a person well-read. Fiction books are based on facts and research as well. I have learning plenty from many fictional books. Just pick up any Jodi Picoult novel and tell me you don't learn something from it.


message 11: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (narcisse) | 209 comments I would say that to be well-read, a person would need to read from a variety of genres/subjects and have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the classics and things like mythologies and religions, as well as contemporary and pop-culture books. I'm not sure what works of literature I would say someone would NEED to have read to fit that description. Obviously, one would want to have read or at least have some knowledge of the writings that are commonly referenced by others (Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, The Bible, etc.) so that they have a contextual understanding of what is being suggested by such a reference.

For example, in an Austen class I took, our professor had us start out reading histories both on her life/family and on the time period, letters, old works of fiction, nonfiction, gardening journals, criticism, and theory (particularly about morals, manners, and taste). It could be frustrating not being able to dive right into conversations about the novels, but once we got to them there was so much more that I was seeing after I had read all the history and background stuff that was common reading at the time. The books became a lot wittier once I had the expanded perspective. So I think that is important. Maybe not to that extent, but still.

My friends were playing some video game in which there was this random comment about aliens putting on a silent production of Hamlet, hoping that he would be judged by his actions rather than his words/emotions. I cracked up over it and they all looked at me like I was insane. I guess you need to be lit obsessed to get it? But *I* thought it was funny, and I don't consider them well-read. :)


As far as whether or not I consider myself well-read, I guess I would have to have something to compare it to. Compared with the majority of the general population, I think that I am pretty darn well-read. Compared to, say, my professor for that course..no indeed, not at all well-read. And compared to the average reader/lover of books I would say that I am moderately well-read.


message 12: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Feb 19, 2010 04:21PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) I googled well read. There were several hits, especially about aircraft (did I understand that?). There is also a book called The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (who knew?). But the article I like most is:

http://www.diylife.com/2008/05/15/how...



message 13: by Mandy Sue (new)

Mandy Sue (mettakaruna) | 811 comments Elizabeth ~ I like this quote from that article... So what does it take to be well read? An unabashed love for reading and discussing the written word, whatever it may be. Reading is thinking; the books it takes to get you there are your own path.

I agree completely. =)


message 14: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments Well...guess I qualify with that definition! Yes I have a love for reading and discussing the written word! Guess we all do...Nice to be a member of a group of such 'well-read' women!! :)


Elizabeth (Alaska) And did you notice she recommends joining an online book club on Goodreads?


message 16: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Elizabeth wrote: "I googled well read. There were several hits, especially about aircraft (did I understand that?). There is also a book called The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (who knew?). But ..."

What a great article, and that's awesome that GR is mentioned!


message 17: by Carrie (new)

Carrie (missfryer) | 532 comments everyone has said it beautifully... a book-lover=well-read


message 18: by Nancy (last edited Feb 20, 2010 06:56AM) (new)

Nancy | 1271 comments What a great question. No I don't think I am well-read. I agree that I'm probably better read than most people. Maybe more fequently read. I still can't pack away the volume some do. So I just don't think I have the breadth and depth that would be truly well-read. That's just me. Enjoyed the article. Thanks Elizabeth!


message 19: by Brittany (new)

Brittany (missbrittany) | 336 comments I agree with those who consider themselves an avid and ecclectic reader, but not what society considers well-read.


message 20: by Donna (last edited Feb 23, 2010 03:52PM) (new)

Donna (donnaweyer) i do consider myself well read. I liked the article but it left off one kind of book that should have been included - young adult fiction. Some of the most honored books in the past few years are written for young adults. Harry Potter move over for The Graveyard Book and The Book Thief. One of the best book i've ever read is The View from Saturday a young adult classic that deals with everything from being overlooked because of your age to coping with a traumatic accident. It makes me sad that people think themselves too grown up to learn something from a good YA book.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Just out of curiosity, why is the religious book The Bible thought to make you well-read, but not include books of many other religions? I've read most of the The Bible, but not cover to cover. However, I don't know that it has made me any better read than having not read any of it.


message 22: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments I'm thinking that Brenda was just using that as an example, correct me if I'm wrong.

I am going to try and give a serious answer to this question!

In my opinion, to be a well read person, you should have knowledge in several different areas like world religions (not just one), the myths, classic literature, geography, peoples, psychology, history, languages, perhaps biology and on & on. In other words, I think it takes a diversity of knowledge. I also think that I could substitute the word knowledgeable for well-read.

I will strive to become well-read for the rest of my life, but could not in all honesty classify myself as well-read just because I read a lot more than most people I know or because I devour information on different topics. In my opinion, it takes much more than that.

...And I will end it there because it's getting a little deep (for me)!


message 23: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (narcisse) | 209 comments Because so much of Western Civilization's literature and folklore has a basis in the Christian Bible and/or belief system. I would say the Greek/Roman myths are equally as important, because those cultures have such a foundation in, well pretty much all of civilization. ,

Not to discredit eastern and other religions and philosophies; they are also important, just not as..relevant?, readily available or taught in schools?, widespread to the point that they influence a lot of writers as far as motifs go?

I don't know really how to explain what I'm getting at without unintentionally sounding flippant. I think it's important to have a basic knowledge of these other religions but not often necessary, in reading most literature; enough to recognize an allusion and Google it if need be, I suppose.

If you tried to Google a Bible or Greek/Roman mythology reference every time one came up, you'd be hard pressed to finish your book. And if you didn't at least have some knowledge of Bible stories and myths, you would completely miss the allusions altogether.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Cindy wrote: "I will strive to become well-read for the rest of my life, but could not in all honesty classify myself as well-read just because I read a lot more than most people I know or because I devour information on different topics. In my opinion, it takes much more than that."

Perfect! - especially the "devour information" part.


message 25: by Pickles (new)

Pickles (angstypickles) Carmen wrote: "At this point I would probably consider myself a frequent reader, as opposed to someone who is well-read."

"Frequent reader" sounds about right for me, too. I read an average of about 30-50 books a year and occasionally classics, literature, and nonfiction are included in that number, but I'm more of a genre reader (romance, fantasy, sci-fi, etc). Mainly I read for entertainment, not necessarily for the pursuit of knowledge. For me, it's more about pleasure and escapism so I don't really consider myself to be well-read in the traditional sense.


message 26: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments Thanks Elizabeth!


message 27: by Kimberley (new)

Kimberley I don't consider myself well-read but I truly believe that you can never be well-read entirely. The main reason being that unless you have read everything that has ever been written, there is always something new to read and learn.

I see myself as a frequent reader, who loves to devour information on many different topics.

I just love to read.


message 28: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 1774 comments Kimberley, that's exactly what I meant! There are certainly people who are more 'well-read' than others, but this is just my opinion.


message 29: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Elizabeth wrote: "I googled well read. There were several hits, especially about aircraft (did I understand that?). There is also a book called The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (who knew?). But ..."

Elizabeth, I love the link you provided! I think it outlines a very user-friendly way for one to become well-read.


message 30: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments Jenny wrote: "I would say that to be well-read, a person would need to read from a variety of genres/subjects and have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the classics and things like mythologies and religions, ..."

Jenny, I have to agree. I am a wanna-be well read reader. I have tried over the last 10+ years to read a wide variety of reading material. I have to say though there are areas that I tend to shy away from unless they are portrayed in fiction, like religion and politics.

I think well-read is subjective but I think we all strive for being that no matter what our reading focus is.


message 31: by AngieA (new)

AngieA (angelwings55) I have enjoyed the following books to help me decide what to read when I want to feel educated:

The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life
The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had
The New York Public Library (R) Guide to Reading Groups

I consider myself well-read because I read lots of different kinds of material and can discuss many kinds of books with others. I learn so much from talking with others about books. I get lots of ideas about what to read from others and often read something I wouldn't have chosen for myself by following someone else's recommendation.


message 32: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (teresainohio) I have this "arguement" often with a friend of mine, she disagrees with about 99% of what I read ( considers some trash, since I read vampires and such), and is constantly trying to get the kids to read classics and non fiction to be well read. Well to me reading is a HOBBY something I enjoy doing, so I am going to read what I want, when I want, and feel children should too. Many kids don't read because they are FORCED to read certain books, and frown upon when they read twilight, Harry potter etc. Since it is hard to relate/talk with teenagers, this is a great way to connect with them and such. So for me to be well read is the ability to share my love of books with others : )


message 33: by AngieA (new)

AngieA (angelwings55) Teresa in Ohio wrote: "I have this "arguement" often with a friend of mine, she disagrees with about 99% of what I read ( considers some trash, since I read vampires and such), and is constantly trying to get the kids to..."

Teresa, I figure any "trash" that turns the author into a millionaire has to have some merit. :) Books you've mentioned, like Harry Potter, turned reluctant readers into life long fans of books. There is merit in that, also. One person's trash is another's treasure!


Elizabeth (Alaska) There is a difference here. Loving to read doesn't necessarily make you well read. There is nothing wrong with spending a lot of time reading "trash", but it won't make you well read.


message 35: by Kate (new)

Kate | 106 comments I think if you asked my husband and friends, they would probably say I was well read, but I don't consider myself that way. I am a well-read fiction reader. I don't read too much non-fiction, but I do read a lot of contemporary fiction. I haven't read a lot of the classics. But I love to read and you can't stop me!


message 36: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2560 comments Mod
I think "well read" by my definition and society's definition would be a huge difference. But since I rarely agree with what society dictates I easily discredit that definition.
I think as long as you are open and enjoy reading various styles and cultural books that's well read enough imo. If you ONLY read one type of books and never vary you may be well read in that genre but not well rounded and well read.

I will say that since GR and COL I have read many more books that I likely wouldn't have picked up without the recommendations or high praise from many of you and I'm really grateful for that. So, in a huge sense many of you have made me a more well read person. Thanks!


message 37: by Kate (new)

Kate | 106 comments Tera wrote: "I think "well read" by my definition and society's definition would be a huge difference. But since I rarely agree with what society dictates I easily discredit that definition.
I think as long a..."


Well said, Tera! And I totally agree. I get so many great ideas from Good Reads and all of you, and for that I am truly thankful!


message 38: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (teresainohio) Elizabeth wrote: "There is a difference here. Loving to read doesn't necessarily make you well read. There is nothing wrong with spending a lot of time reading "trash", but it won't make you well read."

Sorry to disagree with ya : ) but even when choosing to read what some people call Trash, I learn about cities I will never probably visit, different cultures, lifestyles, so I believe any book can educate you and that is what makes you well read not reading the classics, or what other people decide is a book that makes you WELL READ


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