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Why Not Read?

I do not understand people who say: “I don’t read.” When a person says that I feel like clicking the “unfriend” button, but sadly we do not have one in real life. (Who must we speak to about that??) I just feel like there is no use to carry on pretending that me and that person can have any sort of a relationship beyond a very cursory one.

It would be like an anteater befriending a mourning dove: one forever blabbing on about how lovely ants taste, and the other waxing lyrical about how the world looks from high above. It just cannot work.

To be honest, I do not understand why someone would choose not to read. I mostly read fiction and I think fiction is where you get the truest answers about life. This life game is tough and so confusing. It is all subterfuge and lies. People behaving in ways incongruent to how they really are under the surface, and you just tumbling along bashing into walls you did not even know were there.

But in novels you get to see the inside and the outside of all sorts of people. You get to understand that everyone has a rational thought behind what they do. It may not seem rational when we look at them, but they have made a valid argument for what they are doing in their head. Humans are wired like that, they —at least - must know what they are doing makes sense. If you read novels, you understand this and it makes it much easier to navigate this human world we live in. So many important truths about life, I have found in the make-believe world of a novel.

I once heard the most wonderful quote and I repeat it whenever I can: a person who doesn’t read lives only a single life, but a person who reads can live a thousand lives. That is it actually. With every novel you step into a new life for a while. How wonderful is that! Why would you choose to live your one piddly life when you can live a new one every week?

I have just finished In One Person by John Irving (one of my recent re-discovered author crushes). It is about a boy, Billy, growing up and trying to come to terms with the fact that he is sexually attracted to all sorts of people, to both men and women and

transgender people. He settles on calling himself bisexual. It is about his life coming to terms with that and getting the world to accept him exactly as he is.  I learned so much about so many different sorts of lives people can choose to live from this book. The paths people take and why. About all the ways humans can love each other, and not. It made my world bigger just like every novel I have read before this one.

But it is not just me who thinks reading is good for you. Even scientists think so. Recent research has uncovered the following:

Studies have shown that reading long pieces in magazines and reading books helps slow down (and maybe even stop) dementia in old age.

Reading novels and engaging with them is stress reducing. A 2009 University of Sussex study showed that it reduces stress better than even walking or listening to music.

Reading a book before sleeping helps you to have a better night’s sleep. As opposed to reading a lit screen which cues the body to wake up.

Reading self-help books combined with a support session reinforcing the self-help book’s advice has shown, after a year, to be better treatment for depression than typical traditional treatments.

Avid fiction readers have shown to be better able to tolerate uncertainty and are able to think more creatively and do not get tied down to one specific idea.

So why not read? Turn off that TV and get stuck into a good book this weekend.

It is good for you- honestly!


NEWS JUST IN!! Anyone with a teen novel sitting around looking for a publisher— why not send it off for The Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature 2017?  There is no theme this year so anything for 12-18 year-olds, over 25,000 words will do. The submissions, which can be posted or emailed, must be accompanied by a signed entry form. The deadline is October 7, 2016. There are cash prizes and a chance for publication with Tafelberg Publishers in South Africa. More details online.


Its all I write



The boy who used to cry

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