I read because ever since The Thorn Birds at the age of 11 — probably wholly unsuitable for me at that age, but it was the only grown-up book I could get my hands on, and I was ready for something more challenging, even if I got through 500 pages and realised the end of the book had been ripped out — it has opened up world after world after world to me.
I read because in five minutes I can transport myself to another time and another place, and be inside the mind and body of another.
I read because somehow, through the act of reading, I can experience the Soviet forced labour camps of the 1950s.
I read because somehow it lets me enter the nose of a plane in World War II and play the role the bombardier.
I read because somehow it lets me experience London in 1837 and Wangaratta in 1880 and Alabama in 1935, more (for me at least) than any movie can, possibly because of the combined investment of time and imagination.
I read because it helps me to better understand others, because it gives me the perspectives of someone I couldn’t otherwise understand.
I read because it helps me to better understand myself, because I sometimes find the occasionally crazy thoughts that occupy my own mind have occupied the minds of others.
I read because I love words.
I read because I love how words strung together in a certain way can create in me a momentary but perfect understanding of the experience of another human being that might be utterly impossible through the imperfects and incompleteness and inarticulacy of unscripted speech.
I read for the occasional sentence that strikes a chord of wonder and magic and soars.
I read because these occasional sentences of wonder and magic at first convince me I should never, ever write, and then they compel me to try.
I read because I was fortunate to learn how, and I try to remember to be grateful for this accident of timing and location.
I read because every opportunity that has presented itself to me, every door that has opened to me, can be traced directly back to the fact that I am able I read.
I read because I want to write more.
I read because I am compelled to write more.
I read because this compulsion to write more means I need to learn to write better, and awaiting me is a virtually infinite and impossible number of masterclasses from the world’s greatest minds, available for a few cents or a free download or a public library membership and a focused investment of my time and attention.
I read because in writing, I might be able to take the torch from some of these masters, and hand it to someone else on the way up.
Thank you, from my heart, for investing your time and attention in reading these words of mine. I hope I do that investment justice.
Some organisations I admire:
Pencils of Promise (“Can you imagine not being able to read this sentence? 250 million children can’t”)
LitWorld (“Strengthening kids and communities through the power of stories”)
Waterbridge Outreach (“To give children in developing communities hope for the future through nourishing their minds and bodies with books and water”)
The Book Bus (“Reading transforms lives and creates opportunities for children and their communities. Yet one in six adults around the world have come through childhood unable to read and write”)
Room to Read (“Transforms the lives of millions of children through literacy and gender equality in education”)
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