131. Do you read me?

Lionel called the other day with a simple question.

“When are you going to write about The Habit of Reading?”

“Reading,” he explained, “is the greatest gift we can ever give ourselves. Reading breathes life into our experiences in ways that no other media can ever compete with.

“Reading gives us far more gratification than listening to a story in digital form or in watching a movie or a video.

“Audiobooks and movies do all the work for us and thereby remove this sheer enjoyment that comes from bringing our own imagination into play.

“When we read a book we become every character, every location, every prop, and every description on every page.

“We choose exactly what each character looks like, how they dress, how they talk, the pitch, pace, tone, rhythm and volume of their voices and rhythm of their voices the colour of their eyes, and the expressions on their faces.

We design every image and sound, we create every nuance of their behaviour and we select every emotion they portray.

When we watch that same story unfold in video we are seeking enjoyment from the creativity of others and denying ourselves the delight that comes from our vivid imaginations.”

Lionel’s obvious passion for reading reverberated through the phone as he went on to describe how his lifelong habit has helped him in so many facets of his life.

Reading has given him the creative flow so necessary in many areas like problem-solving and decision-making and this creativity has paid dividends in many parts of his life.

I had listened, fascinated as he described his interpretation of characters and scenes from several books we had both read and as I compared his descriptions to my creations when I read those same books I could only agree with every word he said.

It has long been said that if you dedicate one hour each day to reading about a particular topic at the end of five short years you will become one of the world’s foremost experts and authorities on that very subject.

Personally, I do not know a single day without reading as The Habit of Reading was ingrained in me from early childhood.

I come from a family of readers – my parents were both avid readers and my brother, sister and I read every chance we get.

In all the many business trips I have taken over the years I have always included some form of reading material when packing and I have never entered a restaurant to have a meal by myself without having something to read while I eat.

I claim no expertise in any field as a result of my reading but I do know that both the knowledge I have gained, the wisdom of I have acquired and many of the good choices I have made have come about as a result of my reading habits.

On more than one occasion someone – usually a client – has remarked that they envy my passion for reading and wish they had could bring that same discipline to their own lives.

There is no discipline required. Reading is as natural to me as breathing and to go two, three, four or more days without reading would absolutely require a level of discipline that I know I do not possess.

Fortunately my wife Gimalle is a reader too which means that much of our time together is spent with our noses in books, engrossed in the content, lost in the words and yet all the while enjoying each other’s company.

I have met people who have confided in me that they have not read a book since graduating from high school or college or simply “not for many years.” I sympathize with these folks for, in my opinion, by not reading they are denying themselves one of the easiest to attain, longest lasting and hugely favourable benefits available in abundance to us all.

After Lionel and I said our goodbyes I googled “The benefits of reading” and the very first article listed the following 10 benefits available to all who choose to read regularly.

I suspect the article I read in the opinions represent not much more than the opinion of the author but even if she was exaggerating, by a multiple, the following listed benefits and even if the true benefit of each is only a fraction of what is written in her article, then the huge upside in reading, available to all, is a treasure not to be pushed aside.

She lists the following 10 benefits, available absolutely free, to all those who make reading an important part of the lives:

Mental stimulation.

Stress reduction.

Knowledge.

Vocabulary expansion.

Memory improvement.

Stronger analytical thinking skills.

Improved focus and concentration.

Better writing skills.

Tranquility.

Free entertainment.

Reading is a wonderful gift to yourself and The Habit of Reading is one you will never be able to quit.

That’s because “old habits die hard.”

I think I read that somewhere.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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