I've been waiting for the paper that publishes my columns to post my most recent article to their web site. They are having technical difficulties with their web site (ie, the web technician resigned and they've not replaced him yet), so I'm posting the article in its entirety here. Enjoy! (PS - If you are interested in publishing this article to your blog, newsletter or web site, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
Read All About It by Amy M. Dawson
Between sporting events, mountain getaways, Halloween, and the impending holidays, time for quiet relaxation during the autumn months is hard to find. Curling up on the couch with a riveting book is, in my opinion, perfect respite from the chaos. With a book being published about every hour, I’ve got to believe there’s a great read out there for everyone.
Reading has always been one of my favorite pastimes. In grade school, I gobbled up books like a castaway at a hot-meal buffet. I loved Little Women by Louisa May Alcott so much I read all 643 pages in about five days (though I still bear minor rancor toward Ms. Alcott regarding certain events affecting Beth.)
Even a treacherous encounter with a chilling book couldn’t scare me away from reading. When I was nine, I swiped a copy of my dad’s copy of The Ghosts of Flight 401 detailing the paranormal after-effects of a 1972 plane crash. It seemed a pretty innocuous read in the daylight hours.
I read 10 pages, calculated a high probability of our house being haunted by ghosts from an aviation disaster, and slept with my bedroom lights brighter than an operating room’s for the next six months. I didn’t stop reading, but I developed an extreme aversion to bright lights and pilots with creepy eyes as a direct result of that little blip on my literary reel.
I like to think my love of reading originates from the typical Southerner’s appreciation of a well-told story. Thanks to the rich, captivating storytelling of various gifted authors, I’ve visited 1960s Mississippi through the eyes of an African-American maid, seen the horrors of war (and a flag-raising) at Iwo Jima, navigated through a raging snowstorm while descending from the summit of Mt. Everest, and landed front-row tickets to the circus during The Great Depression.
I love that reading isn’t like an Olympic sport, where unless you start training in utero, you’re behind the eight-ball. I enjoy sharing reading experiences with my kids. Once they get over their astonishment the printing press was invented prior to my birth, we find quite a bit of common ground with my grade-school self and their grade-school selves.
Reading a good book is like travelling in a time machine – either into the past, the future, or the world of make-believe. It’s an effortless method of expanding your vocabulary. A good book sharpens your imagination and breaks down barriers. A well-written story can clarify your values and broaden your horizons. It can shake the foundation of everything you’ve ever believed, help you see an opposing viewpoint with greater empathy, or just make you feel happy.
Or, it can scare the heck out of you. I looked up that ghost book on the internet and got a chill as soon as I saw the cover. Tonight, I’m reading a happy book about sunshine and daisies – and I’m sleeping with my lights on.
Amy M. Dawson is an Atlanta-based writer and public relations consultant. She writes about marketing and integrating work, family and life at amymacpr.blogspot.com.
©Amy McCormick Dawson 2010. All Rights Reserved.