Thursday, July 03, 2008

Reading, or rather the lack of reading...

The following may seem strange coming from a writer, LOL...

Lots of things have been causing me to think about reading in the past few months, not least of which would be the fact that I'm supposed to be writing a novel thesis and exegesis - something I've done NO work on now for at least 6 weeks, argh!

I started reading fluently (well, not out loud because I've never been a competent reader out loud thanks to very poor vision) when I was 4.5. I was self-taught, in fact, I learned to read at about the same time as my mum was learning to read English for enjoy (not just practicality)...

I was an avid reader for about 24 years, during which time I read 1000s of books - between the age of about 9 and 14, for example, I made my way through my parents 500 book Sci-fi collection - and as many of you know, those books are often quite hefty... I also like romance novels (what teenage girl doesn't, really), and family dramas. I loved fairy tale novels and fantasy, and a whole host of other genres. I constantly had my nose in one book or another... I read the bible a couple of times in there as well, LOL...

Then when I was at Uni, I had to read texts, mostly non-fiction, and I spent a good ten years reading these things, and that impacted on my lust for reading fiction somewhat as well...

When I had Erik I read a bit about birth and parenting, only about 15-20 books in those early years...

After I had Luey, reading for anything but my studies, and online, really dried up... I did read a bit of metaphysical related stuff, but only really books I could dip into, read a section and hop out of again...

Nowadays, if someone suggests I read something, I groan inwardly...

OMG, the thought of having more stuff going into my brain space, especially fiction makes me want to dry wretch...

Then I came upon a convenient (for me) thought... Reading, like watching television, or browsing the net, is just another form of escapism. In fact, I'm sure I've written this here before. Yes, it's a highly esteemed form of escapism - somehow more noble than watching tv, or browsing the net, but still and all, it's about escaping the real world.

AND it's not as if most people read philosophy or even literature. Most people read trashy, ill-written, poorly plotted tripe, but just the act of READING is highly esteemed in our society.

Some people snubb their noses at literature as if it is merely a matter of taste, like how art is "in the eye of the beholder", but I guess, to me it's more than that. All that is esteemed about reading refers directly back to the difference between everyday writing, and literature. Literature is a SKILL that many writers do not possess, and few actually recognise. I'm not even sure that I would readily recognise myself as I'm only just learning the difference now, but one thing I do know is that one delivers all those things promised of reading - broadening of the mind, increasing vocabularly, learning about new cultures and life experiences... The other is no better than a B grade movie, a pure waste of time for when people really just want to escape reality. It's about quality, versus quantity...

And yet, we're so engrossed with the idea of reading as superior to other forms of escapism that reading almost ANYTHING counts, and not wanting to read is a sign of ignorance or lack of culture...

I consider myself a highly intelligent person, and yet, I'm actively choosing not to read at this time, because I feel I need to be in my present (that doesn't mean other people shouldn't read)... While all my pregnant friends are reading about pregnancy and birth with great thirst and hunger, I feel that reading about these thing would not benefit me right now, but would clutter my mind with unnecessary external issues.

And this brings me to the crux of this blog post. Reading should be for enjoyment, for the purpose of meeting a need. Maybe the need is to escape, or maybe it is to learn about something, but it must be a genuine need, and not something people do to impress other people, or to feel that they are "somehow worthy", that they are not ignorant or lacking culture.

Reading snobbery MUST STOP! If people do not feel the need of reading, they must be respected for this, not considered somehow lacking...

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