Sunday, September 9, 2012

WHAT MAKES READERS SPECIAL PEOPLE

I came across a quotation recently that really "spoke to me", as they say, and caused me to reflect more deeply upon my own feelings for the subject matter addressed.

The quote went like this: "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies … The man who never reads lives only one."
My first reaction was to recognize this as a variation on Shakespeare's, "A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste death but once." But whether intentional or not, I quickly decided, didn't really matter. The message was what counted (in both, actually, but for now let's stick with the one about readers).
As a reader since as far back as I can remember, I could certainly relate to the many "lives" I had embarked upon thanks to the words I found between the pages of a good book or in a gripping short story. I've known people who scoff at reading as mere "vicarious thrills" for those who don't have the spirit or fortitude to get out and do things in the "real world". That may be true, to a certain extent. Reading for pleasure certainly is an escape of sorts … just like watching a movie or TV show, listening to music, walking on a beach, etc. But that hardly means voracious readers don't do anything else. More likely it is one of many activities (for want of a better word) they enjoy. And for those not in the know, the knowledge gained from reading (even leisure reading) can actually enhance other activities.
When my wife and I were young and first married, especially after our daughter was born, we often didn't have the extra money to go out on weekends and do some of the things my co-workers and others we knew often were involved in. Part of it was also a matter of choice inasmuch as we weren't much for the bar scene or parties anyway. Back at work on Monday, some of my co-workers would tell their weekend tales and when they got around to me I usually didn't have a lot to add. Sometimes I suspect some of them might even have felt a bit sorry for what they perceived as my dull existence. What they didn't understand was that Pam and I were perfectly content staying home with our daughter, watching old movies on TV, going to the park, taking "Sunday drives", etc. And, for me, I also had my reading. No, maybe I hadn't made it to so-and-so's big party or gone water-skiing at the beach or any of that. But, in my books, I may have gone to a dozen exotic locales and participated in a hundred exciting adventures.
Thinking back, maybe it was only my imagination that any of my co-workers might have felt sorry for me. Either way, it doesn't matter. What I know for sure is that I eventually came to realize it was I who felt sorry for them.
You see, I feel sorry for anybody who doesn't read.
They'll never know what they're missing.
Readers are a special breed—special people. You find them in all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities, and ages. Every decade or so we're told that they are a dying species, that reading is on its way out, being replaced by something new and different. And yet the volume of reading material—including electronic media—increases every year. And with the inclusion of eReaders and eBooks, that volume is exploding at an even greater rate. 
Yeah, readers are special—and durable.
I predict they're gonna be around for a long time.
And now that I've also become a writer … well, that makes readers special to me in a whole new way. In return, I promise to do my best to help them enjoy leading some of those "thousand lives" that await them when they open the pages.

Posted by Wayne D. Dundee 9/9/12

8 comments:

Kit Sloane said...

Terrific post, Wayne. When ever asked what my delights in life are, reading comes right at the top. I grew up loving reading and now love it just as much, if not more. I think it's a special gene that's in a reader's heart. Unfortunately I don't think it can be taught. My son is a public school English teacher and agrees. We can teach great books, but the love of simply reading them is another thing altogether. I can't imagine what life would be like without the pleasures of books (and I read from a Kindle!).

Kit
www.kitsloane.net

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I agree with you, Wayne, reading ts wonderful. Thoughtful post, Wayne.

susan furlong-bolliger said...

I feel the same as you, Wayne. Reading is such a joy. Where else, except between the covers of a good book, can a person experience the freedom of visiting another world, catching a killer, meeting exotic characters or learning a new hobby without ever having to change out of their pj's? Thanks for summing it all up so well, Wayne.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I believe the love of reading starts when we are young. If our parents have books in the house and enjoy reading themselves, we often follow suit.

Perhaps equally important is reading to our children. Cuddling close and sharing a story for the young child is a bonding experience they never forget. They equate reading with safety, companionship and a loving relationship with their parents. I've seen this happen with my children and grandchildren. When parents take time out of their busy day to read and relate to their children in this positive way, it is of benefit to both child and parent. Reading is never a waste of time. Beryl

John said...

This is really worth reading, it has too much details in it and yet it is so simple to understand, Thanks for sharing it


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Shalanna said...

I agree that you're born a reader/bookworm. Some people are, and some aren't. The ones who aren't fascinated just never will understand--just the way I'll never understand their favorite pursuits. I never was much for "partying" and simply didn't ever "get" why people would think it's fun to go to a bar and get drunk and vomit, or go out to the lake and make out and drink or smoke pot, or whatever. That stuff bored me from the get-go. Participating in the creation of the Vivid, Continuous Dream (as John Gardner terms it) did interest me, and still does.

I don't think you have too many details in the post, as the previous "caller" mentions. This is a great example of a perfect-length blog post WITH CONTENT, in fact, IMHO!

Shalanna said...

I agree that you're born a reader/bookworm. Some people are, and some aren't. The ones who aren't fascinated just never will understand--just the way I'll never understand their favorite pursuits. I never was much for "partying" and simply didn't ever "get" why people would think it's fun to go to a bar and get drunk and vomit, or go out to the lake and make out and drink or smoke pot, or whatever. That stuff bored me from the get-go. Participating in the creation of the Vivid, Continuous Dream (as John Gardner terms it) did interest me, and still does.

I don't think you have too many details in the post, as the previous "caller" mentions. This is a great example of a perfect-length blog post WITH CONTENT, in fact, IMHO!

IC Enger said...

I agree with you that readers are born, nature vs. nurture. I remember my very first book from the library - a giant book of American Indian villages and every day life. I was the only one in my family who read just for pleasure, and started writing little stories in grade school. It's a pleasure that's hard to explain to a non-reader.