Thoughts on reading…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss an article about reading focusing on Wislawa Szymborska…..

I read a lot. More than 52 books each year as well as my daily newspaper, the weekly New Yorker and roughly 80 blogs.

When I was a child I read the cereal box at the breakfast table and always had a spare novel sitting in the top right-hand corner of my desk at school. If I finished my work early, I could dip into my book.

About the only time I couldn’t read was for a year following my stroke. I just didn’t have the concentration or the attention. A stroke is a brain injury, and my brain was off reading for about a year while I recovered.

For all these reasons I paid extra attention to a recent Brain Pickings blog post. Headlined, “Why We Read,” the article cites Galileo, Kafka, E.B. White and Polish poet and Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska (pictured above.)

Here is what Szymborska has to say about reading:

Reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised. Homo Ludens [“playing man”] dances, sings, produces meaningful gestures, strikes poses, dresses up, revels, and performs elaborate rituals. I don’t wish to diminish the significance of these distractions — without them human life would pass in unimaginable monotony and, possibly, dispersion and defeat. But these are group activities, above which drifts a more or less perceptible whiff of collective gymnastics. Homo Ludens with a book is free.

I agree. I never feel so free as when I’m reading — lost in another world with novels or learning more about the reality of this one, in non-fiction.