I know many of my friends are not regular readers. I understand that. The world is filled with excitement, and we are led into YouTube and Netflix, or out into the world where there are people. I envy those of you who can deal with people. They all scare the hell out of me. But, reading is something you just don’t have the time to do. I get that.
I’m advocating that you find 30 minutes, once a week, probably on Friday night, and just read… anything!
I’m not delivering a teacher’s pitch for Reading. I couldn’t possibly care less what scores you will ever make on any reading test. They mean next to nothing. And they’re certainly not why anyone reads.
My roommates are all but incessant readers. One of them, in fact, reads semi-professionally. I think this is why we can live together. I think it’s why, as well as anyone is likely to, they understand me. They read very different things from what I read, but that makes no difference. They read. They experience other people’s lives.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.”
―George R.R. Martin, Dance with Dragons
Why read? Mr. Martin just gave you the best reason. We are here for an extraordinarily short time. We have just the one life, at least on Earth. I’m not getting into the possibilities for Afterlife here. This isn’t the time. But, readers get to have experiences that others don’t. A good writer will take you wherever she needs you to go, and will fill you with thoughts and feelings you will never experience any other way.
There are other reasons, of course. Yes, it’s going to make you smarter, even if I don’t like what you read. I don’t think most of us care about that, though. I wish more of us did. It will also make you more empathetic. (There’s an entire essay on my blog about the value of Empathy, so I will say here only that I believe Empathy makes you more human.) But, if nothing else, it provides you some quiet time with just your thoughts and those of your author of choice.
With all of that in mind, I’m going to be posting on my Blog, once a week, probably on Friday. And I promise I will never take all 30 of your minutes. I’ll never ask for more than half of them. I will rarely ask for more than five of them.
But, even if you don’t give me the time, please give it to yourself. Just 30 minutes a week is enough for most of us. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re reading the wrong book, or the wrong essay, or the wrong poem. Pick another. I suspect, if you do this, you’ll find out what we readers already know. There is nothing more wonderful than reading.
“I have sometimes dreamt … that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards — their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble — the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.’ ”
―Virginia Woolf, The Second Common Reader