Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Privilege of Understanding Ourselves

'It [this book] reminds us that we read because literature offers the privilege of understanding ourselves through the lives of others. It reminds us that with this privilege comes the unanticipated power to change our own lives.'

- Rabalais, K 2012, 'Desperation unfolds like a luminous dream', Review: The Australian, 3-4 March, p.18-19.

This week I have been doing a lot of reading.Now, that really shouldn't be a surprise with a degree title 'Writing, Editing, and Publishing', should it?
I have long loved the written word; as a child I would read anything I could get my hands on, as a teenager I would stay up to all hours of the morning to finish a new novel that had been delivered to my hands that very morning, and as an adult I spend hours everyday reading (nowadays a lot of blogs make up my reading list!), now I am in the process of making reading my job!
A few years ago, when I was going through a period where I lost my own sense of character, my individual needs and the essential joie de vivre, I lost my love of reading. Somehow my lifelong love of losing myself between the pages, dancing between the lines, and travelling the world from my arm chair, had disappeared. 
As I started making positive changes and walking slowly back into the light my appetite was reawakened. 
A hunger like none I had ever experienced took me over, satiety could only be achieved through a steady diet of text. The last two years have been filled with literature from all walks of life: romantic fiction, histories, science journals and books, cookbooks, explorers tales, pop psychology, and poetry.  

The wonderful chance that I have been given, to be in a place in my life where I am able to go back to university, has allowed me to begin appreciating the craft of the written word from a wholly new perspective. To begin exploring the very basics, such as the intricacies assigned to constructing a 'proper' sentence and the macro level issues like breaking into the publishing industry.
I think I have fallen into the right (or should that be write?) rabbit hole Alice.
I would never give back the five years that I spent at university for my undergraduate degrees; I gained the knowledge and power to help others, and myself, and one of the greatest friendships of my life.
But this time I am studying something that I have a true passion for and I feel the excitement every time I walk into a lecture or tutorial.

When I read the newspaper this weekend and saw this quote in a book review it echoed with me.
Why do I read?
I read to learn, I read to escape, to come back to myself and all that is important, I read to be reminded of times in my past and to be inspired for the future, I read to step into another's shoes for a while, I read to be whisked away to foreign lands, or to dream of places that don't exist.
There is privilege in peaking into the life of others, to learn from their travails, be entertained by their tales, and to be reminded of the ordinary beauty in our world.
The minutiae of daily life can take away our ability to probe more deeply into our experience, to allow time to reflect on what we have been through, and to imagine all the possibilities of the world.
There in lies the privilege of reading.
The gift of an author stimulating those deeper feelings about our experience, helping us question what we have seen and done and the acts of others. The chance to reflect on what the world has to offer, or how everyone's experience of life can be so different and yet contain so many similarities to our own, no matter where in time or place they have lived.
The privilege is the seed that a good book can sew in our minds that grows into inspiration to dream of all that is to come....

Tell me, dear reader, why do you read?


  1. i'm so happy u've reconnected with a past love...reading! :) i was a voracious reader growing up too, but the same kind of thing happened where i didn't read so much for a long stretch (i still did some occasional writing) and it wasn't until i got back into both that i realized how much i missed them. i read for different reasons: to escape, for humor, for knowledge, and sometimes for the light gossip junk in mag's...haha. but i think i love writing even more...i like to be the one leading readers. :)

  2. Beautifully written. I can't imagine a life without books. I read novels to escape, explore different worlds and cultures. I read self help and motivational books to grow, I read blogs for friendship and inspiration... the list goes on and on!! xo

  3. ohhh this is seriously beautiful. i love reading. to get lost in the pages of a novel where time seems to stand still...i just love that feeling. and always feel truly touched by the characters in the story i have just read at the end :) the pics are gorgeous friend! i, too, am so glad that you have this fantastic opportunity to return to university!