Dabbling and dipping – thoughts on reading

I just finished reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. What a book! It covers some heavy topics and encourages you to really look at how you see your own life, to consider perspectives and to look regrets straight in the eye. Life, in all of its hypothetical quantum versions, needs to be lived to be understood. The protagonist, Nora, effectively dips into many of her possible parallel ‘what if’ lives and she samples them in all their splendour. I loved it, loved it, really loved it and I have already ordered more Matt Haig books to dive into as soon as they arrive.

Anyway, the novel got me thinking on reading and experiencing and whether sampling as a process or experience is valid in reading. It made me wonder: is it better to dip and dabble or should we dive in deeply?

So many people tell me that they don’t have time to read. They don’t have time to listen to audio books and professional readings are so dry they literally feel that they need to desert the process. But what if we could be encouraged to just take a little dip? And what if one of the little dips actually turned out to be a refreshing little catalyst?

My kindle reading list is full of samples. My Borrowbox app is similarly full of books I’ve dipped into and bookmarked to loan again. The samples serve as dips. Their brevity does not allow for much depth (yet) but the process of dipping allows me to confidently dabble and then as a natural consequence, take deep dives into authors who really resonate with me.

Reading doesn’t have to be a full commitment. Like a tasting platter, it is nice to sample the text before committing to the full book price. Once I’ve read something on kindle I usually also buy it in hard copy so reading can be an expensive hobby… but expense aside, this is about embracing the sampling experience of life and of reading as a worthy pursuit.

Some might say that releasing samples means that the authors are giving away their work and that readers are stealing from them. But I disagree. I feel that allowing readers to sample their work is a confident promotion for every author and, provided the sample is tasty, the reader will come back for more. And then possibly even more. And deeper.

Dipping and dabbling is a bit like speed dating. Funny, no, no, maybe, dry too technical, interesting, yes please. Even porridge can be too hot and too cold before it is just right. Right?

My lasting thoughts from The Midnight Library considering my own reading life, real life and e-library is that it’s ok to be time poor but you should at least try to find time to dabble. Embrace the dip and dabble before the dive and you might just find a writer that makes a new thought, approach or inquiry come alive!

What if we could start a culture where the dip and dabble of daily reading inspired daily wondering? What if we all just shared the most interesting quote from our most recent dips? What if reading and dipping meant that diving wasn’t scary or arduous anymore. That whole time hurdle that gets in the way of reading could disappear and transform into a culture of sampling. It could be a culture where we all are pursuing and engaging in something meaningful or at least making baby steps towards whatever something that might yet be. Imagine the infinite potential… beyond book clubs, we could be part of something more.

So, after diving into Matt Haig I’m dipping into Thoreau next (he was the protagonist’s favourite philosopher in The Midnight Library and I thought I should at least give him a try). One dip leads to another you see, and that is the kind of adventure I like.

What are you reading at the moment?

Which professional readings could be worth (at least) a dip?

Who could you share a favourite quote with this week?

Which books/authors are worth recommending?

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