I mentioned Stop What You’re Doing and Read This! the other day, and I am still loving it – so much so that I’m not going to confine it to one post. I love essays about books, mostly because I agree with what they say – even better is when they make me reshift and reconsider my passionate views on reading. Here’s a quotation from Mark Haddon’s essay ‘The Right Words in the Right Order’:
Talking about reading as the cause of anything is to get things back to front. It exists in the valley of its own making. It gives us pleasure; and our embarrassment about pleasure, our fear that reading is fundamentally no different from sex or sport, tempts us into claiming that reading improves us. But pleasure is a very broad church indeed, and we do literature no great service if we try to sell it as a kind of moral calisthenics.
Reading is primarily a symptom. Of a healthy imagination, of our interest in this and other worlds, of our ability to be still and quiet, of our ability to dream during daylight. And if we want more people to enjoy better books, whatever that means, we should concentrate on the things that prevent people reading. Poverty, poor literacy, library closures, feelings of cultural exclusion. Alleviate any of these problems and reading will blossom.
Stop What You’re Doing and Read This!