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      July 11, 2010


"You are what you read."

 -- Harley Hahn

Harley Hahn's World of Reading

Spend even five minutes with a friend who is
reading, and you'll quickly agree with me that
watching someone read is about as interesting as
watching paint dry.  And yet, from your own
experience, you know that, even though it may look
as if nothing is happening while we read,
something amazing actually *does* happen.  What
seem to be mere symbols on a piece of paper are
interpreted in such a way as to continually change
our thought patterns.

A moment's reflection will show you just how
important reading is to human beings.  For example,
of all the things that humans create, it is
reading material that has the most variety.  Walk
into any library, and you will see that there is
much more choice of books to read than there is
food to eat, games to play, or even movies or TV
shows to watch.

In fact, reading preferences are so personal that
no one even expects two people to share the exact
same tastes.  Imagine, if you will, a husband and
wife who are so perfectly matched that, after
living together for 25 years, they enjoy the same
food, drink, TV shows, vacations and even friends.
In spite of this extraordinary confluence of
taste, we would *not* expect them to have the
same taste in reading material.  Indeed, it would be
extraordinary to even contemplate two people who like
reading exactly the same books.

Let's say you are a young man or woman looking for
the perfect mate.  You meet someone who is your
dream come true:  You are attracted to one
another.  You have compatible goals.  You bring
out the best in one another.  However, there is one
important difference: you and your soulmate have
radically different tastes in reading.

Would you reject such a person?  Of course not.
If you were both intelligent, educated people, you
would *expect* your reading tastes to be sharply
different from one another.

Why should this be the case?  The answer is
simple, but important.  Among intelligent,
educated people, reading is not optional.  It is
crucial to mental well-being and, since we all
have different mental needs and inclinations, we
all have our own reading preferences.

How important are these needs?  Suppose an
eccentric billionaire were to offer you a large
sum of money on the condition that you did not
engage in any recreational or informative reading
for the next five years. Would you agree to do it?
(I hope not.)

When you look at reading in this way, it is clear
that what we *read* is just as important to us as
what we eat or what exercise we do, perhaps even
more important.  Indeed, I know people who eat
poorly and rarely exercise, but who read difficult
and interesting books voraciously.

Because reading influences so much of who we are
and what we think, it makes sense for us to
recognize that -- in a real and important way --
we are what we read.  It thus behooves us to ask
ourselves two questions:  What types of books are
good for us to read?  Where do we find such books?

To help you answer these questions for yourself, I
have created a special Web site called Harley
Hahn's World of Reading...


"I love to read, and I hope you do too.

"Why? Because reading is so important in so many
ways. Indeed, throughout your lifetime, if you are
to keep your mind working well, it is crucial that
you spend a lot of time reading.

"For this reason, I have created a reading site
that I hope you will find interesting, useful and

"As you explore Harley Hahn's World of Reading, I
want you to know that I have three goals..."

Harley Hahn's World of Reading

Book Reviews: What is Harley Reading?

I love reading and, at any one time, I am usually
reading several books.  From time to time, I write
reviews of these books and post them on the Web

My goal is to share my experiences with you and to
give you ideas about books you may wish to read
(or not read).

The reason I say "not read" is that many books are
just not worth reading.  I strongly believe that
it is a good idea to read widely with an open
mind, taking chances on unfamiliar books and
topics.  When you do, however, you will, every now
and then, find yourself in possession of a book
that is just not worth the time it takes to read.
When this happens to me, I write a review in which
I discuss the book's weaknesses and explain why
the book is best avoided.

In general, however, most of the reviews I write
describe books I think it is worth your while to
read.  So if you are looking for an interesting
book to try or, perhaps, a gift for someone, these
reviews will give you lots of ideas.

Within Harley Hahn's World of Reading, you
will find a great many book reviews.  All the
reviews are on one long page -- called "What is
Harley Reading?" -- so if you feel adventurous,
you can start at the top and keep reading as long
as you want.

In the past few days, I have caught up on all the
reviews I have been meaning to write for some time.
Specifically, I have reviewed the following 12

  "Ice Brothers"
  "Harry S. Truman"
  "The Man Who Saved Britain"
  "The Graduate"
  "Home School"
  "Walt, Mickey and Me"
  "Forever Hold Your Banner High"
  "The Guest of Honor"
  "Me and a Guy Named Elvis"
  "A Thousand Sundays"
  "The Collected Short Fiction of Bruce Jay Friedman"
  "Dean and Me: A Love Story"

My guess is you may not have heard of any of these
books.  If so, that's fine.  My goal is to give
you ideas: if these books are completely new to
you, so much the better.


"In order to read well, it is important to read
widely. This is easy for me to say, but how do you
know which books to choose for yourself?

"I offer you my personal reading list: the books I
am reading now or have read in the recent past.
My hope is that this list will give you ideas for
your own reading.  Perhaps, if you are lucky, one
of these books will open a new and satisfying
world for you..."

Book Reviews:
  What is Harley Reading? (the main page)

Lists of all the reviews:
  From newest to oldest
  Alphabetical by title
  Alphabetical by author

-- Harley Hahn