The key to all this enjoyment is of course the wonderful skill of reading.
We use reading in so many areas of our lives: for directions, filling in forms, for following any form of written communication, including the use of the internet.
I read fiction and non-fiction, but I'm a light reader, rarely undertaking the classics, or heavier themes. When I think about it, I think the reading I most enjoy is story telling, whether factual, in the form of biographies and travel writing or as fiction.
Like most people, I read for many purposes:
- to escape when I like crime novels ( writers like Ruth Rendell, Ian Rebus, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo), or perhaps a family saga, often multigenerational.
- for enjoyment when I like what is called literary fiction (John Lanchester, Anna Funder, Nam Le), and especially what I'd call 'world' themes often written in translation, of life in many different countries.
- for education, and information when I use the dictionary, consult reference books and travel guides, and read well written but 'light' history.
I love the newspaper, and while I'll check stories on-line, nothing, for me can replace the spreading of a newspaer on the table at breakfast time and combing through it for news and opinion.
I use an e-reader when I'm travelling and occasionally at other times, and it certainly beats carrying 5 books in the luggage, but nothing can replace the smell, feel, and weight of a proper paper book, hard back or paperback.
It is hard for me to imagine not being able to read. It feels as if my whole world would collapse. I know one of the things an elderly friend regrets with her failing sight is the effect that has had on her reading: talking books are just not the same. As I watched someone reading braille last night, I though what a wonderful physical act to enter the world of reading, such sensitivity of touch must be required.
When I had contact with adult migrants learning English I became aware of how many, because of poverty, war and lack of opportunity had never developed the ability to read their native language so while they might develop verbal communication skills in English, they would probably not be literate in either language.
Earlier this year, I noticed billboards about indgenous illiteracy in Australia, and wondered they were about. Following up, I found the website of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation where I found some of the problems in communities particularly in remote areas where many issues combine to reduce the ability of children to learn even the most basic literacy skills. Like all such groups they are dependent on funding, much coming from a percentage of sales in some bookshops, and from publishers, on Indigenous Literacy Day( 5 September, 2012), and the rest from the community. Save your book purcases until then and go to one of the listed booksellers for a painless way to help. What better gift could we give these young people than the gift of books and reading during this Australian Year of Reading?