I feel like a public service announcement with this month’s blog post. Remember that campaign that started in the late 80s? Well, this is my campaign. And it’s true – the more you know … I’m not sure how that sentence ends, but trust me, it’s positive. So here we go.
Something came to my attention a few weeks ago that I found odd, if not downright disheartening. My yoga teacher has a tradition of having everyone go around the room at the beginning of class to answer a question. It’s a fun way to introduce yourself, break the ice, let others get to know you. The week’s question: What are you reading? Now I think this group is a pretty fair sampling of society, with people of all ages, from all walks of life. And do you know that the vast majority of folks were not reading anything? I think I could count on two hands those of us who gave legitimate answers. The rest offered up things like online newspapers, magazines or textbooks. Let me tell you something – it may be called a book, but Facebook doesn’t count! In this day and age of the Internet, entertainment technology and social networking, people are much more likely to be looking down at their phone than down at a book. You’re excused if your book is on your phone. Contrary to some, I’m not against e-readers or Kindle apps.
I think I’ve had an answer to the reading question ever since a writing teacher first prepared me for it, if not before. “Always have an answer to the question, ‘What are you reading?'”, he said. Or don’t bother to call yourself a writer. I’m paraphrasing this last part, but you get the drift. If you want to be a writer, you have to read. I think that’s probably in every writing book ever written. But don’t get me wrong. I was like anybody else. I partied in college and just “got by.” Then, when I had a clearer idea of who I wanted to become, I read. I read all the books on old course syllabi in my twenties. And I’ve been reading ever since.
But even if you don’t aspire to writing, you should be reading. Take it from Canada’s National Reading Campaign. Geez, socially speaking, that country may have one-upped us here in the U.S. (If it weren’t so damn cold, I might’ve even moved there.) But seriously, they say reading improves your physical health, mental health and empathy. I think I learned somewhere that serial killers lack empathy at an early age. So, we’re raising a society full of murderers? Yikes. If that doesn’t scare you into cracking open a book or sharing a bedtime story with your kid, then consider this next graphic:
Six minutes! Who doesn’t have six minutes? Make it a priority. If you really don’t have time to spare, consider shutting off the television or computer a little earlier than normal. I know you make time for that, I see you on Facebook. And you don’t even have to be fast! I read and reread the same page of Wild (yes, the movie) before finally giving up on it. I trudged through Wicked for six months and I’m still not sure what happened. But consider this: being in the middle of a book makes you look smart at the least. Some of that knowledge is bound to seep in. And you know, the more you know …