The Act of Reading

I just came across an interesting question.

Has the act of reading made a difference in your life?

Well, I don’t know if the actual act of reading has, other than it limits physical activity because I can’t read and walk at the same time.

But has reading made a difference in my life?

For me, that’s an obvious yes. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t read. I wouldn’t daydream, that’s for sure. Who knows what kind of adult I’d be if I hadn’t spent so much of my younger years either deep in a book, or deep in an imaginary story. That added up to a lot of solitude.

It reminds me of the time I sat on my bed, crying, because the siblings were outside playing basketball and hadn’t asked me. My mom sat next to me and said, ‘well, would you have gone if they asked you?’ My response was a dramatic ‘No, but I still wanted to be asked!’. No, I wouldn’t have gone outside and played basketball because the blank paper and the sharpened pencil waited. Symbols of those wonderful imaginary worlds.

There’s the obvious positive outcomes of early reading. A lot has been written about how that impacts brain development, confidence, etc., but this has me wondering about the less obvious impacts. No so much physical brain development, but the emotional.

I can’t remember how old I was when I started reading, but I do clearly remember how old I was when I started telling stories, and even the first story, and my awareness of the power of storytelling. So for me, that came before reading, and I assume reading just enhanced the desire to tell more stories. And I definitely became someone for whom the story world in books was more real than what was going on at school or at home. I wonder if I would have read so much if I hadn’t first discovered stories. Sounds like an ‘egg before the chicken’ type of question.

The question fascinates me because I find I can’t imagine not reading. How do you separate reading, and stories, from who you are? I can’t.  Maybe the actual question is, who would you be if you didn’t read?


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