The writer Neil Gaiman gave an inspiring talk last week to a British reading organization (The Reading Agency) that I keep thinking about. If you haven’t read or heard it yet, you can listen and watch the talk on the Agency’s link or read an excerpt from The Guardian here. There’s nothing shocking or exactly novel to what is discussed; it’s just ideas that I don’t hear expressed very often in our culture. I think it is safe to say that most people understand how important it is to know how to read and that banning books is about as effective as telling teenagers they can’t dance (i.e. Footloose). Gaiman eloquently and passionately lays out the importance of reading, the power of libraries and our job as adults to help instill a love for reading in the young. One of his chief points is on the incredible importance of reading fiction.
There are a number of fantastic ideas in his talk – here’s one of many that resonated with me.“We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.”
Grab a novel – grab some “escapist” reading if you want – it doesn’t matter what it is so long as you like it. Post in social media about what you’re reading, have books on display at home, be seen reading in public. Younger eyes and minds absorb what is important to adults. Here are some images to inspire your bookish interiors!
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” — Stephen King