On Writing And Reading

Friday, 22 January 2010, 21:38 | Category : Books
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I posted this as a comment on another blog, in response to a post on writing among college students. Chris made the statement that “I recently heard somewhere that you learn to write not necessarily by writing, but by reading”. Reading introduces you to the art of language, while writing introduces you to the science of language, or perhaps more properly, the engineering of language. Both are important, but trying to write without the advantage of being a well-read person is analogous to someone possessing a box full of tools. If they have never observed someone working with those tools, their ability to use them is severely restricted. The use of some, like a hammer, will be largely self-evident, but others, like a place, will not lend themselves to obvious use. The results will not likely be a piece of well-crafted furniture.

Reading is becoming a lost art in our society. While library usage has risen during these shaky economic times, I suspect it’s been computers, not books, that have borne the increase. Perhaps I’m wrong – I would love to think that people are actually reading books in greater numbers – but my limited-sample observations, at my local libraries, show that the computer rooms stay full now, but the stacks are still easily navigated. Study after study shows that reading is beneficial in many ways, but so many people have the attitude of the person who asked me, several years ago, why I went to the library. Reading was something they stopped doing as soon as the finished school. I can’t imagine not reading.