To Read or Not to Read by Susan Lute
In today’s busy world, where every hour in the day is taken up with the day job (if you have one away from home), family, social networking, marketing (if you’re a writer, published or not), there’s little enough time to write, much less time to really hunker down and enjoy a good read. I was listening to a conference CD the other day on the commute to the city for the day job and one of the speakers was John Charles (librarian – I didn’t catch from where, I’m sorry to say). John says, and I have to agree with him, “Reading is a necessity.”
How we’re reading might be changing, but I don’t think anyone who has a love of the written word will disagree with John. There are so many good reasons to read.
First, it’s a great escape. What else can you do that lets you explore the world at large, in such an intimate way, without leaving the comfort of your lazy-boy? You can watch a movie. But the level of detail is often hampered by the constraints of film (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE movies). Think about the places you can go. Metropolitan cities like New York, Paris, and London. Places you’ve never been to like Pompeii, Japan and Atlantis. Some destinations you would never see, like an off-world planet, or Regency England.
Second, reading is a great glimpse into the human condition: love, war, sex, relationships forged under some of the worst, and best, situations. Books are vignettes of peoples’ lives, stunning, sometimes unimaginable, always incredible.
You can learn a lot from reading fiction. I didn’t know a thing about Feng Shui until maybe four or five years ago, when I read about it in a story. After that I studied the art thoroughly. Reading expands your horizons.
You can be anyone you want to be when you’re reading. A New York detective, who always gets her man. An art restorer who falls deep for the Navy Seal who saves her. A ghost. A vampire who is the good guy, or girl. A shapeshifter who’s ancestors descended from the Maya, a private investigator who’s a wizard, a lost soul trying to win her, or his, way back into the grace of heaven. A prince, or a pauper, or the butler.
And reading can be the best history lesson. Authors are clever at doing their research, and then layering in the details that underlie their story. Historical romances are full of little tidbits you might not discover any other way. Even contemporaries. Readers expect, and get, accurate details. Think of Steampunk, how the minutest element informs the story. They are perfect depictions of what was, is, or could be, with a little twist unique to the genre.
So, at least for me anyway, John is right. Reading IS a necessity. How about you? What do you love about reading? And how do you find the time?