Why read?

Rambly, personal piece.

1. Because there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a new book: those tentative first few pages, testing the waters to see if they appeal, and the decision to settle – to be static and let the words wash over you.

2. Watching an old favourite movie is like visiting a friend. Reading an old favourite book is like coming home.

3. Sometimes the best people you meet only exist on a page. Give a child a book and you give them ordinary people in extraordinary situations, or vice versa. You give them charming sarcasm, strong friendships.

4. Knowledge is power. A man who has words in his head, who has opinions and arguments and assesses them all, has power over his morals, his decisions and his personal politics.

5. Books give you tools at your disposal; they’re naturally useful. If you want a young girl to be able to spell words like “maintenance” and “chaotic” before she’s six, give her a book when she’s four. Tell her that asking what a word means, needing a dictionary now and again, is a good thing. It is.

6. Stories, even when they were words from mouths rather than on paper, existed – and still exist – for a reason. Reading makes a person wonder who else they know that has a story, what that story is. Be in a character’s head and you’ll want to be in other people’s. Give a child a book and you give them compassion.

7. People argue that reading is something that belongs to the upper-classes, to snobbery and private schools. In this era, that is almost entirely a lie. Make it an utter lie. Access to knowledge is a basic human right – exercise it.

8. A woman who uses good words, bright words, right words, can’t have them used against her. It is much, much harder to lie to a good reader.


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