Show Your Work!
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Show Your Work!

33 thoughts on reading

(A manifesto of sorts.)

  1. I will make an effort to carry a book with me at all times.
  2. I will read whatever interests me. I will read novels. I will read poems. I will read essays. I will read short stories. I will read memoirs. I will read magazines. I will read newspapers. I will read comic books. I will read self-help. I will read street signs. I will read ads. I will read instruction manuals. I will read old love letters. Etc.
  3. I will read whatever the hell I feel like. No guilty pleasures.
  4. I will try to clear my mind of expectations before I sit down to read. I will give each book a chance.
  5. I will turn off my fucking phone.
  6. I will be a good date, but I will not let an author waste my time.
  7. I will not finish books I don’t like.
  8. I will let boredom ring like a gigantic gong.
  9. I will throw a book across the room.
  10. I will read with a pencil. I will underline. I will dog ear. I will write in the margins.
  11. I will massacre a book if I need to.
  12. I will copy down favorite passages in my own hand, to know what writing the words feels like.
  13. I will re-read favorite books the way I watch favorite movies and play favorite records over and over.
  14. I will make lists of books I want to read.
  15. I will take a deep breath and understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to read everything.
  16. I will toss “The Canon” out the window.
  17. I will keep a list of books I have read. I will share this list.
  18. When I find a book I love, I will shout about it from whatever mountaintops I have access to.
  19. When I find an author I truly adore, an author who makes my gutstrings vibrate, I will read everything they have written. Then I will read everything that they read.
  20. If I hate a book, I will keep my mouth shut.
  21. I will make liberal use of the phrase, “It wasn’t for me.”
  22. I will ask people what they are reading. I will take notes.
  23. I will keep stacks of unread books at the ready.
  24. The minute I finish a book, I will start a new one.
  25. I will go to the library. I will go to the bookstore. I will get lost in the stacks.
  26. I will read bibliographies. I will let one book lead me to another.
  27. If I need to read for information, I will browse and skim and Google book reviews.
  28. As often as I can, I will read out loud to someone I care about.
  29. I will not lend out a book if I ever want to see it again. If a friend asks to borrow a beloved book, I will buy and mail them a copy.
  30. I will not harbor the delusion that being a reader makes me a superior person.
  31. I will not suffer under the delusion that the act of reading alone makes me a better person.
  32. If I don’t feel like reading, I’ll go do something else. Maybe even — gasp! — watch TV.



Sharing the creative process and bonus material from my new book.

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Austin Kleon

Author of STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST and other books. I make art with words and books with pictures: