Friday, July 16, 2004

‘Training wheels for the imagination’

Need to come back to the issue of reading for pleasure. Why? Because it’s so important! One of the most frequent things I hear today from contemporaries is: “I don’t read for pleasure, I have too much I HAVE to read for work.”

I say, “Hogwash.” So do I. As a writer, I read (or at least skim) through the New York Times and Washington Post online daily. I have stacks of business magazines that I need to get through some day. I always manage to find time for The Atlantic and New Yorker. I read a book a week about spirituality for review and still manage time for fiction. Fiction nourishes my creative soul, takes me out of the place I'm in and introduces me to characters I may or may not recognize. In other words, to envision other worlds, other places in time.

“Invention and ingenuity not only require the ability to see what exists, but also to envision possibilities that have yet to be realized,” according to Poynter’s Book Babes in their piece, “Why Johnny and Jane Need the Novel: A new NEA report says lit is lagging. Here's why media orgs should step up to help save it.”

They ask the question: Do the media have some responsibility to help keep fiction and poetry alive?

“The NEA report suggests we might. For one thing, literary reading continues to be a popular pastime in the United States. In spite of the bad news about reading's decline, in 2002, only TV watching, movie-going, and exercising attracted significantly more people than reading literary works, according to the NEA.

“Think of journalism as the building block for understanding the world. Think of literature as training wheels for the imagination,” say the Book Babes.

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