I have 248 books in my house. Yes, I counted and no, that doesn’t count borrowed books. Topics range from travel to fiction to mystery to cookbooks to books on learning theory and biology. Obviously, I love to read. It should be a requirement for us as graduate students because we read a lot. Some of my books are like comfort food, comfort books I guess. When I need to escape into another world, I’ll pick up a book and read it cover to cover in a weekend and enjoy every word my eyes consume. And it feels like a guilty pleasure.
I’ve read a handful of my books more than once. For academic books I find myself re-reading chapters more than the entire book. Yet every time I re-read the pages I notice something new. It’s as though I’m reading through a different lens. And that’s because I am. I started exploring this idea when our theory group was reading Dewey’s Democracy and Education. Dewey writes, “’Reason’ is just the ability to bring the subject matter of prior experience to bear to perceive the significance of the subject matter of a new experience” (pg. 146). What Dewey means is that we see an event in connection to a larger framework, that by habit we see things through different lenses.
Our theory group is currently reading Acts of Meaning by J. Bruner. Bruner states so eloquently, “Books are like mountaintops jutting out of the sea. Self-contained islands though they may seem, they are upthrusts of an underlying geography that is at once local and…a part of the universal pattern. And so, while they inevitably reflect a time and a place, they are part of a more general intellectual geography” (pg. ix).
This is the second time I’m reading Acts of Meaning and I’m simultaneously reading Maps of Narrative Practice (M. White). It wasn’t until I picked Acts of Meaning up for the second time that I started realizing the similarities between it and White’s book, nor had I previously recognized how much White built on Bruner’s theory. I’m now reading both books through a different lens all to create the geography that underlines my doctoral research. I would encourage everyone to re-read a book. Who knows what you’ll discover this time around.