It’s simple. You should join if it will enable/encourage/be a continuation of – a passion for reading. Check out this Oscar Wilde quote…
Reading for pleasure can shape who you are. Both good and bad books can influence how you think and how you respond and/or make decisions for your life.
What can reading help you to be?
Autobiographies have given us incredible insight over the years to many enigmatic people who have achieved incredible heights of fame in their professions. Some of those people have done great things. Others have done some great things interspersed with some stupendous mistakes. When we read their stories we can often find ourselves empathising with their flaws and weaknesses and can end up feeling as though we know them. We don’t really. But it’s a gift to be able to have an understanding of life in somebody else’s shoes. It stops us making snap judgments and assuming that the grass is greener. It also stops us assuming the dangerous assumption, in the case of celebrity autobiographies, that success doesn’t derive from many setbacks and plenty of hard graft.
It is not just autobiographies that enable us to empathise though. Fiction can enlighten us to certain life experiences and/or ways of living that allows us to realise that everyone has a history that has shaped them. Some of it good, some of it bad and, perhaps, not of their own doing.
A piece of advice I read early on in my creative writing journey was to read, read, and read some more. If you want to write well – but not only that – if you want to be an effective communicator in all areas of life (don’t we all?), then you should read. And read plenty.
But it isn’t just about increasing vocabulary and absorbing the well-executed craft element. As you read the unfolding landscape of someone else’s imagination it can unlock your own creative thinking.
Just as many artists have done, writers, who know the rulebook, often throw it out in new and exciting ways to generate new voices and styles. Simply engaging with it can inspire you to think outside of the box also.
You can glean so much information from fiction (yes, even chick lit!). Whether it’s geographical, historical, or cultural knowledge, many writers do a great deal of research to ensure their work is believable. They invent a lot, but they also base much on truth.
You can also learn more about the human experience; the human heart, morality, life and death. Believe it or not, reading someone else’s story can also help you to know yourself.
This isn’t the same as knowledge. I once read a good quote that clarifies the difference (I can’t remember where I got it from).
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that it doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.”
Wisdom is a lot about the application of knowledge. You might know you can do something, but that doesn’t always mean that you should. When we read stories we get to see a great number of decisions play out before our eyes. We can be exposed to nuggets of wisdom about life and how to live it well, without even realising it.
Have you ever got to the end of a book and felt upset/angry/disturbed? I have. For a couple of days after I will most likely be pondering why. What was at stake? What of my personal beliefs did it jar with and how? Those books tend to help me cement in my mind what I think and believe. So even a book that communicates a message that jars can be a positive experience by showing and confirming why I believe what I believe.
Books that significantly jar or disturb I may well decide not to finish. I think this is a great skill to learn. Knowing when something is too much for you (applies to all popular culture) and may stay with you in a negative way is essential and it’s important to not be too proud to cut it loose. If books can shape who you are, then that is sobering as well as empowering.
So, do you want to be all these things? And more?! (Cheesy, I know).
Do you also want to engage with others about your reading experiences? I am so excited about this element. Here are the basic questions we will be discussing after reading each book…
What was the best bit?
What was the worst bit?
What did I learn about the world?
How has my perception of the world changed?
These are very loose questions that hopefully will invite varied responses. By way of example I am going to write a post this week answering these questions about a book I read last week on my holiday.
So stay tuned… and in the meantime, sign up to join what we read here! Out of the sign-ups from today and tomorrow, I will choose one at random to gift the first book to (Kindle version only). Read this post to find out what our first title is.
Reading starts… TODAY!