The importance of being a reader

by Paul Vachon, June 1, 2015

I have a confession to make–when I was in college, I failed to achieve a high grad point average, despite my concerted efforts. I was always envious of those students who seemed to have time to go to the bar, sit around and have “bull sessions” until the late hours of the night and still manage to score a place on the Dean’s List at the end of the semester.  I, on the other hand, had to struggle through late night study sessions, abbreviated sleep and excessive amounts of coffee to eke through simply a modest degree of academic success.  After five years of work, I earned my BA degree in Liberal Arts in 1982 with just a 2.3 GPA.  I need to mention, however, that the college I attended, Sacred Heart Seminary College in Detroit, had standard on par with institutions like the University of Michigan and that in addition to our course work, all students were required to perform volunteer work, attend three chapel services daily and participate in a number of in house community functions. Needless to say, it was more than tough.

But without a doubt the most beneficial legacy I obtained from my college experience was my deep intellectual curiosity, which has only grown stronger over the years.  My active engagement with reading and other intellectual pursuits has varied over the years due to work and family responsibilities, but I’ve always had a curious and inquiring mind.  Today, I make my living as a writer  , and being the generalist that I am, I strive to read as much as possible to continually increase my familiarity with the subjects I normally either write about or have a strong personal interest in.  These include history, education, politics, psychology, religion and photography.  You may notice that fiction is conspicuously absent from this list of topics, but in my reading goals for 2015, I’ve added a few novel to the mix as well!

Here’s my list for this year.  When I get to the end of 2015 I let you know how close I came to finishing it.

On Writing,  Steven King
Understanding Exposure,   Bryan Petersen
The Digital Negative,  Jeff Schewe
The Digital Print,  Jeff Schewe
The Camera as Historian,   Elizabeth Edwards
Team of Rivals,   Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Fifties,   David Halberstam
The End of the Suburbs,   Leigh Gallagher
Summer of ’68,   Tim Wendel
Hollywood Censored,  Gregory Black
The Nazi and the Psychiatrist,  Jack El-Hai
The Better Angels of Our Nature,  Steven Pinker
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,  Robert M. Pirsig
Good Without God,  Gregory Epstein
Jo Joe,  Sally Weiner Grotta
In Defense of a Liberal Education, Fareed Zakaria
Failure is Not an Option,   Gene Kranz
My Forty Years with Ford,   Charles Sorensen

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