Two weeks ago, I gave a talk on “The interplay between reading and writing in our global village” at the EU Inter-institutional Libraries’ event. We live in a global village (i.e. our world is a community connected by the Internet/computers, trade, entertainment, etc), so we share ways our social realities are formed and interpreted. The formation and interpretation happen through the stories we tell each other, stories we read and write.
Reading is a social activity. You might be alone, tucked under a cosy blanket next to a bedside lamp, but you look deeper into the author’s mind and subconsciously connect with other readers.
Writing connects us to ourselves, and it’s formalised thinking. As William Faulkner had said: “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” (1897-1962, American writer and Nobel laureate).
We read what we like to write and write what we have read or want to read.
When we read or write, we: exercise our brain, improve our focus, improve our memory, improve our ability to empathise, improve our communication skills, improve our mental health, gain knowledge and ideas, and get entertained (reduce stress). In short, we become better individuals and live longer.
One of the event organisers is a co-author of “Pour en finir avec la passion: l’abus en littérature” (To End the Passion: Abuse in Literature), which is about the evolution of cultural and literary conceptions of passion – love – in French society and questions why love remains inseparable from suffering.
One of the participants commented on the novel “Future Perfect”, which he had recently read, posing, “Has her past been erased by a mistaken computer click or simply shelved for no reason?” The main character’s resilience leads to encounters in Asia, America, and Europe that bring back memories of love and devotion half a century earlier. It has a global theme.