In Defence of Reading

I want to say something that has probably been said a million times before. It’s about reading- in case you couldn’t tell from the title- and why we could all benefit from doing more of it. I hope the following words don’t simply sound like a hollow advertisement, a brochure about the importance of books, especially in this “modern” world.

So how do I create something new out of a message that is tired and overdone? Maybe I won’t accomplish this feat at all, but I think I’ll make my attempt by detailing my own reading experiences. I have always loved writing, so perhaps it goes hand in hand that I’ve always loved reading as well. The two are closely related, obviously. From reading, I have learned a lot about ways to weave words together, and through reading, I continue to gain new insight that helps me to hone my craft.

Yes, reading is especially pertinent for a writer. But the reason I turn the pages avidly amounts to more than a desire for “writerly” improvement. Reading offers me opportunity for exploration. Through the stagnant words that seem to sit there dully, I find distant realms and undiscovered caverns within my thoughts and notions of the world. These assortments of letters become more than their literal composition; they unlock imagination. In all honesty, I don’t know what my world would be without imagination.

I see imagination as a greater entity than mere fantastical dreams. Imagination allows me to place myself into other situations, and I see this as an invaluable ability in life. Imagination enables compassion. Books have opened places in my heart for a wide array of people in a wide array of circumstances. Even the most unsympathetic of characters are extended a hand of understanding. There is no universal narrator. Each story presents a completely unique perspective: a window into the soul of another whom I empathize with and follow until the final page.

The variety of written work also means that I can read things pertaining to my interests. I can meet people like me whom I would otherwise never meet and go places I have dreamt of that I would otherwise never go. I want to find some creative, enlightening way to share how important reading is, but maybe the truth is generic and simple no matter how it is expressed… that is, until the reader discovers reading on their own.

Because reading isn’t a passive activity. You do meet people; you do go places. When I read, I am a part of the story. And when I am a part of the story, I experience the story with all of its highs and lows and I learn from it. I grow from it. The words of wisdom it whispers to my soul are ones I always carry. Although they may have been the result of something completely “made up,” they become a piece of me in the real world.

There have been times in my life when I’ve read copiously, and times when I’ve quite fallen out of practice. It’s a habit, requiring discipline, like any other pursuit. Lately I have been trying to be disciplined in my reading and I suppose that’s why I wanted to write this post. In the future, I’d like to post reviews on my blog of some of the books I read. I have been inspired by so many books and I’m grateful to all of the authors. My hope is that my own words will be able to inspire you too, and that I may give others the gift of reading, a gift I continue to unwrap myself.