Recently, I encountered an article by Neil Gaiman addressing the subject of reading, and its correlation to pretty much every aspect of our lives as individuals, and our futures as societies. As a (former) avid reader (for I must, with shameful face hung low, confess that I have allowed busy-ness to demote my first love in life to the position of last priority) it is needless to say that I thoroughly agree that reading (and books, and libraries) are the gateways to our future – though not with blind, fanatic love.
You see, if I could sum the article up in one sentence, it would read as this: “When the answer to everything, is to READ.” And this applies to more than just the average tuition kid you may know who’s struggling with English composition assignments. Why?
When you want to understand a new concept, you might Google it – you read.
When you need an answer to a pressing issue, you might look up a ‘How-to’ guide – you read.
When you encounter a new word, you might check a dictionary – you read.
How about a foreign word/phrase you’d like to know the meaning of? Yup, that’s right, however you find the information, you would, in short, need to read.
We read for information, so that we may gain knowledge that can be applied to solve the problems of today, and reduce new problems for tomorrow; we read for entertainment, to relax, kick off our shoes, let our hair down, and recuperate to fight another day; we read to enrich our souls; to grow in joy; to experience empathy (for others, and from others) and become better persons; to understand other cultures and broaden our world; to learn from past mistakes and triumphs – we read to Reinvent, Empower, Aspire, and Discover.
In short, R.E.A.D.
Reading enables us to get out of the mundane, and gives us ideas to alter that which is routine. It widens our perspective – not just regarding how others think or view something – but also allows us to discover a little something we didn’t know; about ourselves, our world, our future.
Of course, don’t just read the papers. And while non-fiction might be good for scientific/factual knowledge, fiction is what promotes the generation of ideas. Because, you see, getting out of the world you feel ‘trapped’ in, even if only figuratively, offers more than relief – it offers a different perspective, which might lead you to notice a route of escape you weren’t able to see before.
Do note, of course, that different types of fiction will have a different effect on you, as a recent scientific study has discovered; apparently, reading literary fiction improves one’s ability to identify and process social cues, as well as increase empathy – so perhaps, before you head out for that interview for a potential job, or a meet-up with a potential client, a little Dickens or Brontë might just be that little push you need to clinch the deal.
From: Amanda Yun, contributor/editor.
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