So Many Books points to the short PDF e-book ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skill for Transforming Life Through Literature by Nick Senger. His 5-step method of reading uses the acronym ROMAN, as in: Read the book, Outline the book, Mark the pages, Ask the right questions and Name your experiences. (Mark the book? Gasp!)
Senger is a schoolteacher who developed the ROMAN reading idea to help his students become better readers. Specifically, he teaches by encouraging the reading of classic literature, the best of which he determines by collating data from 13 “best of literature” lists. (Topping the list with 12 citations: Don Quixote by Cervantes, Iliad by Homer and Aeneid by Virgil.)
Encouraging reading is a good thing, but I detect a smack of reading elitism here, particularly in this passage:
Books are like neighbors, and your personal library is your neighborhood. Take a look at your bookshelves. What kind of neighborhood are you living in? Are you in a slum or in the suburbs? Who are your neighbors? Are they trash talkers or shrewd sages? If you live next door to Socrates, then invite him to dinner every night. If you live next to Dan Brown, then put your house on the market.
An interesting analogy, to be sure. My own taste in reading spans both the “lower” and “upper” ends of the literary spectrum, even if I do tend to spend more time at the “lower” end. (This even applies specifically within the band of science fiction itself, which some would consider wholly existing within the “lower” end — but that’s another story…) Sometimes I like reading Literature with a capital L. Other times I like reading a good yarn. Basically, I go wherever the whims of my mood take me.
I sometimes hear people speak as if (or say outright that) reading is not a worthwhile activity unless you are reading Literature with a capital L. Enter self-doubt. Am I wasting my time by reading anything else? Am I denying myself the true value of reading? Am I becoming a literary snob? Is this self-doubt the beginning of a midlife crisis?