Reasons to Read

Alexander Serebryakov, “Reading a Book” (1946)

Friday

Check out this essay by Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club. I particularly like its list of reasons to read:

When I can’t stand to look at one more hateful tweet from the president, I read a book.

When I turn on the television to hear the news and all I hear is people shouting and talking over one another, I read a book.

When I realize that I have 1,200 unread emails, I read a book.

When the apartment is a mess and friends are on their way over, I read a book.

You get the point. When I’m stressed, I grab a book. I also read when I’m not stressed. I like to read. And that’s a good thing because I work in publishing and I write books. You can’t (or shouldn’t) do either unless you like to read them.

When it’s a beautiful day, I read in the park.

When it’s raining, I read under the covers.

When I’m on a plane, I read on the plane.

When the plane is stuck on the tarmac, I have more time to read on the plane.

Schwalbe talks about the guidance that books provide in his recent Books for Living:

On the last page, I wrote that books remain one of the few defenses we have against narrowness, domination, and mind control. But only if we read them – and then only if we spring into action based on what we’ve learned and discovered. Books can’t do anything by themselves. They need us.

 Today we need to read more than ever. And we need to act now more than ever.

I especially like that final injunction. As I tell my students, there are three steps to get the most out of a work of literature: immerse yourself in it, reflect upon it, change your life.

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