Reading is a joy. It allows you to retreat into yourself and conjure up your own images, without them being beamed directly at you.Â
It doesn't matter if you're reading Archer or Zola, reading is good for you in so many ways.Â
So I was intrigued to see an article on the Guardian website that states that 'time for serious reading appears to be getting more and more pinched'.
The author claims that no-one really reads the likes of War & Peace any more, because there's too much stuff going on in their lives – in other words, we're being bombarded by media all day and can never switch off.
But is that really the case? Do people genuinely not have time to read because they're spending so much time on the internet, watching TV or playing computer games?
In my experience, if you've been brought up reading, then you'll carry on reading. Certain people may sniff at the likes of Dan Brown and JK Rowling for not being well-enough written, but at least they encourage people to read.Â
It doesn't matter if it's trash (and that's not a pejorative use of the word) or high-art, books are books. If you're reading fiction especially, reading means you switch off from everything else and go into your own world – and there's nothing wrong with that.Â
Back to the Guardian article and the author discovers countless books that he hasn't managed to finish. He's naturally horrified by this and wonders:
And here's where he's missing the point. He seems to lay the blame squarely at the foot of the emerging world of technology.How could it be that someone who loved fiction enough to study it at Masters level, teach it, and then go on to write it for a living had become so distracted from the garden of literature?
But that's surely a convenient excuse. We all know the feeling when we get totally immersed in a book and can't put it down till it's finished. It's the same feeling when you find a great TV show that you like and you want to buy the box-set and watch it from start to finish. Â
If people aren't doing that with books, it's because the writing just isn't good enough. If you don't like a TV programme, you tend not to bother watching it all the way through. You switch over or switch off.Â
If you don't like music, you find something else to listen to. Why should books be any different? I know I haven't got time to waste on a book that's not engaging me, because there are so many out there that I haven't tried yet.Â
You don't win any medals for ploughing through War & Peace, just because it's an acknowledged classic. And anyway, no-one else has read it anyway, so you can't exactly have a decent conversation about it, can you?Â