The old house still smelled like it's past life, when it was a small winter mansion for the James Ringling, the brother of the famous Circus Man, John Ringling. Italian tiles, worn from years of use, no longer clicked with the heels of the 1920 flapper and her beau. Now, flip-flops slapped against the reddish floor as a parade of New College Students made their way to the dining room - turned - classroom. Professor Hassold stood in the hallway and handed me back one of many research papers. I frowned at the grade and asked for an explanation.
"Your writing is terrible" She said, watery blue eyes sharp despite her age. She always told the truth, whether you asked or not. "You need to read more."
My mouth dropped open a bit and I stammered, "I read three to five book a week" I gulped.
"Hmmp" she said, mouth pinched, "Then you aren't reading the right books" She entered the dining room, calling her class to order, my stunned reply already forgotten.
I remember the walk back to my dorm and the puzzlement swirling in my brain. Read more? How would I find time to read more? Every spare moment I had was devoted to curling up on my bed, head propped on a pile of pillows, devouring book after book.
I stood in front of my bookshelf, only a small sampling of my books showing. Most were stored at my Dad's apartment, 200 miles away. I ran a finger over the spins, mouthing the titles.
Then it hit me: all these books were fiction, mostly young adult or science fiction. No classics. No history or art or sociology or plays or poetry. A handful of Christian books I purchased but hadn't read. A stack of gender books I eagerly snatched up at a book sale, feeling very intellectual for buying them, but again, I hadn't read them.
I understood then, what my professor meant. My writing would only ever be as good as the book I read. And since I mostly read mass produced science fiction, you can imagine what my academic writing was like.
Then and there, I instituted the Rule of Three. The Rule of Three states for every fiction book I read, I must also read one non-fiction and one Christian.
Now, all you have to do it scan my Books I've Read blog to know, I don't follow this rule closely. It's more that for every five to eight fiction, I read something non-fiction, Christian or otherwise.
However, I have noticed recently, I fell into a strange, yet marvelous pattern. I'm always reading more than one book at a time (why is a tale for a different day), but by combing this quirk and the Rule of Three, I've managed to more closely follow the rule.
I read Three Books at a time: One Fiction, one Non-Fiction, one Christian.
I've been doing this for several weeks and it's marvelous. I feel I'm finally making a dent in my non-fiction collection (and by dent, I mean I've read two out of about a thousand and I'm down with that).
I mention this because last night, I finished both the Christian book (which I've been reading for about four months) and the non-fiction (which I've been reading for about a week). Now, I get to pick TWO new books from my shelves to dive into....oh, the glorious choice!