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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Need to Read

Hello my dear followers.

This blog post comes to you from August last year when I was keeping a blog on another platform. It (believe it or not) only struck me today that there are a lot of posts over there that deserve to be reread by me and perhaps shared with you.
This is one such post. It’s actually a topic I’ve been dwelling on once again lately. So, without further ado, I give you ...

I have said to myself a lot lately that I should be reading more. After all, I am a writer: reading comes with the territory and is really integral to writing-at least if one is going to at least attempt to write well and with a broad base for the thinking, ideas, information and so on that should inform written communication. As well as this, there is the love of books that I have always had. There was a time (no, not so much a time as a long periods of my life, long spans of time) when I would always be reading. Every spare moment, on the bus, in the park, in a cafe, walking even, at home, anywhere, I would be reading. I got through a book every day or so…well sometimes anyway. And I read widely too. Not so much the ‘classics’ but all sorts of stuff anyway, just wherever my fancy or available books to read lead me.

So, why haven’t I been reading that much lately? Hard to say, but there are a lot of distractions. Usually these are of a trivial, superficial, meaningless nature. Only occasionally have they been of such importance as to give a valid reason for not reading. I guess in summary, I have been hijacked by the mundane, I have allowed myself to be seduced by the urgent while neglecting the important; I have wallowed in self pity at the expense of an occupation (reading) that would have lifted me out of that pit.

But, now I am on a new kick. I am beginning to reacquire the habits of long ago when reading was really such a vital part of my life. Right now I am reading the Scroll Edition of On the Road by Jack Kerouac [that is, I read it last August!]. So far I am still reading the rather academic essays in the front. These are interesting, if a little dry. They will I hope inform my reading of the scroll itself. I have read the published version of On the Road many many times over the years, and the Scroll will be different: different grammatical structures and rhythms, the real names of the characters in the story, one long paragraph (as in the whole damn thing being the one paragraph), more detail on Neal Cassady and different emphasis on various aspects of the story as Kerouac originally wrote it but which was cut out of the published version in 1957.

I’m finding it is helping me get back into the swing of reading in depth, and with thought. It sounds like I haven’t been reading at all, and this isn’t the case. In fact I probably average a book a week, but often they don’t really register on any deeper level, and I often read several at once (one in my day-pack, one in my studio, one in bed, one in…) which means none of them really get the attention they deserve. Time to narrow it down a bit. Why not take the one read at bedtime out to the cafe in the mornings when I (and this is another joyously renewed habit from another time) take a predawn walk and stop to read and write in my diary while enjoying the almost deserted morning cafe on the river? It gets read faster and more importantly it comes to occupy my thoughts on a deeper and more impacting level.


  1. This is a wonderful post. It made me head right over to library shelves and look for something wonderful to read! I have hundreds of books so there are plenty of different subjects for me to coose from :)
    Reading by a river cafe would be a luxury that I would look forward to every morning. Writing in a journal is very relaxing too...
    Thank you for this wake up call for reading!!!

  2. That is great news Janice. It's easy to sometimes fall into the habit of seeing one's shelves (I also have hundreds of books, many never read) as just part of the furniture. I took yesterday off and today also, just to spend a few hours each day reading. luxury!!!


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