By Craig Funston
I love to read, and I love good books and magazines. You may have gathered that passion already, based on my two previous columns. I have tried to show you the virtues of reading. You may want to check back to see what I said.
To me, reading is one of the greatest historical achievements any civilized nation can reach. Homes and education systems that produce readers produce a strong future. Groom the children of the nation to read and you have success at every level—moral, spiritual, nutritional, vocational, educational, and any other word that ends in “-al.” There are other factors, to be sure, but reading is a key one.
In other words, a literate nation is a liberated nation.
It’s Reading Week here in Alberta. I ask the question: Are we enjoying Reading Week or enduring weak reading? For me, every week of the year is reading week; every day is reading day.
I have no idea when I first got turned on to reading, but I am a better person for it. I am also a better husband and father, thinker, teacher, writer, and speller, too. I’m probably a better wannabe-farmer for it, too: Having the ability and desire to read allows me to rush to the library or Internet when I need to read up on some project or problem.
Reading is a plus in so many ways that I hardly have space to write about it. Here is a list of some of the advantages reading’s pleasures:
1. It’s a great babysitter. That doesn’t sound right, so let me explain. Once your children can read, they can nestle up in the corner bean bag and read to their heart’s content. It keeps them constructively preoccupied, which cannot be said for the electronic nanny that’s in their space and face. They can learn good things that way, too, saving you some of that effort.
2. It’s a trip without leaving the house. Few of us can travel when and where we want to, but we can if we have a book. Over the years I have travelled through jungles, mountains, and steppes, in and out of continents, back and forward in time–without boarding a plane. My sources have been a variety of authors who have taken me there vicariously in their writings. In fact, their writings have been so real that I have often felt I needed to buy travel insurance. (Okay, okay, I exaggerate.)
3. It’s an inexpensive night out. Going out, and all that that entails, can become very expensive and intrusive. Instead of dressing up, think of curling up—and enjoy the night out mood, without going anywhere. It’s cheaper, safer, and quicker, save for the cost of some exciting novella.
4. It’s smaller than a laptop, less clumsy than a desktop. I know there is such a gadget as Kindle, but that’s more book than computer. In the main, books are much more handy to take with you than any other form of meaningful entertainment. You don’t need to worry about connecting or re-charging.
5. It’s a mind stretcher. I want to be careful not to go into my usual rant about how most electronic toys are mind-dulling addictions–though I suppose an obsessive compulsion to reading can be similar on the rare occasion. I find reading the right type of book can be a boost for the thinking process, an aid for everything language-related. It can also make you a more interesting person to be with.
6. Lastly, it is a whodunit without the blood. (Maurice: “whodunit” is a cool way to write “who done it?”–not very grammatically correct, but it sure sounds good.) I love solving mysteries, even though I never can nab the crook. It appeals to that forensic side of me, and I can keep my hands clean at the same time.
Those are just for starters. I’m sure you can come up with more.
It’s almost worth going to the dentist, just to get my hands on the free reading material. Free toothbrush and free magazine subscription—life can’t get any better than that.
There are general topics that intrigue me: history, mystery, comedy, and biographies, for starters. I do read what you may call religious works, but I read more far than that. I avoid low-brow smut, cheap romance, political rants, and anything to do with blood and gore. They are often poorly written. you feed on that stuff, you must be….oh well, I’ll it leave it at that.
Reading is clearly one of the cheapest hobbies one can have. You can be anyone, go anywhere, and live anytime, without lifting an elbow. You can be the most ambitious lover without the pain, the most heroic dude without the sweat, or the most brilliant strategist without the training.
And I know exactly what I’m talking about: You see, I read it in a book.