Today’s ZINE is led by our copywriter, Aisling, who is dying to tell you why reading for pleasure really is for everyone.
Coincidentally, she also runs our office book club - I LOVE Books. There seems to be a theme here.
Reading for pleasure really is for everyone.
Books have a bad rep, and I’m inclined to blame school. At school we’re told to stop looking at screens, turn off the TV and read books in the guise of “learning” not pleasure. There are many problems with this, but that’s a story for another time.
In a nutshell, the forbidden (TV) becomes cool and the forced (books) becomes unbearable. Leaving us with a weird PTSD like aversion to reading that we have to unlearn.
But, I’m a firm believer that books give you something you can’t get anywhere else.
Yes, there are stories everywhere - TV, Netflix, films… Instagram. But they all have one thing in common: you observe them from a distance.
Books, on the other hand, need a reader. They need your imagination to paint the story into a mind’s picture and they need your empathy to feel the pain and love of their characters.
When you read a book you become someone else (or many someone elses) and inhabit an entirely new world. You don’t just see what they see, you feel everything they feel - especially the uncomfortable stuff.
It’s well documented in advertising that telling a customer something just ain’t good enough. You need them to feel something. And I’d argue the same is true for storytelling.
For someone to truly understand your story, they need to feel it. They need to live it.
Reading enables you to be in two places at once. Reading enables you to have multiple lovers. Reading enables you to see something as others see it. To those who say “reading just isn’t for me”, I say, you’ve just not found the right book yet. (Or perhaps you need therapy for book PTSD).
So, to help you on your journey here are three books I’ve read recently that stuck with me. And in the spirit of equality, there’s something for everyone.
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
If you want to be moved beyond belief you should read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. A tale of four classmates trying to cut it in New York - broke, adrift and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition.
The premise is as simple as that, but it teaches us that behind a brave face there can be all sorts of heartbreak. I’ve never read a book as long (720 pages) that I didn’t want to end.
Torturous and unbearably beautiful, relationships really are all you need to keep the pages turning. I will never forget this book.
This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay
If you want to laugh (and cry) you should read This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay.
You had me at Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor. Adam Kay left the NHS after practicing medicine for six years. His tales are laugh out loud and share with everyone you see hilarious.
I never thought a book detailing the crumbling of the NHS would make me laugh so much. As educational as it is entertaining.
Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit
If you want an eye opener you should read Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (especially if you’re male).
A collection of short essays (blog articles for those of you struggling with high school PTSD) that are a fierce and incisive exploration of issues that patriarchal culture will not necessarily acknowledge as ‘issues’ at all.
The title essay investigates the conversations of men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t.
Yes, a man did try to lecture Rebecca on a topic SHE’D WRITTEN THE BOOK ON, and no he hadn’t read it.
I’d like to caveat that I know not all men do this. Rebecca frequently makes this point in her essays. However, speaking from personal experience, it’s definitely not a ‘one-off’ issue.