By Ella Berthoud Hardcover, 144 pages, 2019. Leaping Hare Press (Quarto Group)

“For the avid reader, it can be a habit to devour a book, staying up all night to finish it, neglecting friends, children and work to read it, and then—-to forget it. For some, the moment they put down the book, it is gone from their minds, and may be permanently deleted. For the mindful reader, this is a habit to overcome, as all good books should become a part of us forever.”

How do we absorb a great book? Savor writing as if it were running out.

As you read, notice everything—how the book looks and feels, how the words sound, how the characters are portrayed, and how the story is told.

What did you think? How did you feel? Do you have questions? What struck you most?  Filled with many exercises to activate attention, Ella invites us to get to know a book like a lover. Not as passive as we thought, is it? 

We traditionally think books are sacred, but Ellas says they’re not. Books should serve our purpose. Take it outside and get it dirty if that helps you neutralize its hold. If it’s too long that you can’t carry it or easily it, “cut it into bite-sized chunks” with “a large, sharp knife” says Ella. Sounds rebellious.

“Don’t believe the Hype” just because a title is famous, a bestseller, or highly rated. Read it for yourself and form your own opinion.

If it’s not for you, abandon it—for now. It might not fit your needs right now or you may not have the right experience to understand it just yet. Ella returns to books initially abandoned and appreciates them better.

What we read shapes us. So choose your books wisely and read deeply.