Read books!

Read books!

The Kurt Vonnegut interview referenced in the previous post included his comment that a reader has to “perform.” Here’s an excerpt:

“I’ve said that to open a novel is to arrive in a music hall and be handed a viola. You have to perform. To stare at horizontal lines of phonetic symbols and Arabic numbers and to be able to put a show on in your head, it requires the reader to perform. If you can do it, you can go whaling in the South Pacific with Herman Melville, or you can watch Madame Bovary make a mess of her life in Paris. With pictures and movies, all you have to do is sit there and look at them and it happens to you.”

That’s an interesting thought, and it reminds me that I should read more often. Not just the news online or blogs, but actual books, especially fiction. Read David McCullough‘s short commencement address at UConn, and you will be challenged to pick up great books and start reading.

As the holiday break approaches, plan to read a book just for fun. Even during the semester, you will be surprised at how much down time you actually have to read something other than classwork. To quote from McCullough’s speech:

“To carry a book with you wherever you go is old advice and good advice. John Adams urged his son John Quincy to carry a volume of poetry, ‘You’ll never be alone,’ he said, ‘with a poet in your pocket.’”

Of course, I’ve already strongly recommended Brenda Ueland’s If You Want To Write. But, if you just want a fun, rollicking adventure story, try Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass and the entire His Dark Materials trilogy. The Golden Compass movie is opening soon and is the source of some controversy. Don’t worry. Reading the books won’t turn you into an atheist.

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