Archive for the ‘books & reading’ Category

Pick up and Read

April 29, 2010

Time spent reading is the best part of my day, and some of the best days are the ones that I can spend the better part of immersed in a book. The reason I am in school is that it is one of the few places that recognizes what I like to do as a form of labour. The by now expectable, defaultĀ  question from strangers about what I am doing with my time is “Where will that get you?” I need to think up a better answer than “Perhaps I will teach”– something like “It’s not about getting anywhere, it’s about staying where I am”, or, more to the point, “It’s about personal survival”. The problem is, to understand that answer, one needs to be the kind of person who has also managed to survive by reading, and those kind of people would not likely ask such a question in the first place.

But, if I may make a personal confession, reading has literally saved my life, probably more times than I am actually aware of, since, like homeopathic medicine, a steady consumption of books has likely staved off many precarious derangements of body and soul. But there have been other times when I have been laid so low by life’s crises that only books have been able to–I won’t say bring me back to life, since that is a process involving multiple factors, the most important of which seems to be human community–but at these pivotal times of crisis books have been the primary agent that has both preserved something crucial to human functioning and helped turn my mind away from whatever dark and perilous position it has found itself in.

"Hmmm...weak this plotline is."

For books, too, are a form of community, one that covers the entirety of recorded human history (and here we have to include the oral traditions of storytelling that preserved the first human communities through so many centuries of pre-textual existence). Books are a pact between the past and the future, an archive, if you will, of the human conscience itself. The artefacts contained in this collection are brought to life in the precarious balance of the present moment by people who like to read, who need to read, because humans are the storytelling animals on this planet.