Reading opens doors in the mind
OVER the weekend there were a number of events across the Fraser Coast, offering a full range of experiences.
One of these events was “Lines in the Sand”; an annual writers’ festival run in collaboration between the University of the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Coast Libraries. It was really special to see so many locals interacting with highly accomplished published authors about their ideas, techniques and stories.
Often when I talk about the great work that our libraries are doing it is in relation to children’s activities and childhood literacy. But reading for pleasure and edification is of tremendous benefit to people of all ages in our community.
This Thursday is Australian Reading Hour, a national initiative encouraging Australians to pick up a book for an hour. Reading reduces stress, it helps us to understand our own identity, and really importantly, leads to greater levels of empathy.
Good writing can play a deep, profound and enduring role in our lives. It informs our experiences and broadens our horizons. Just in the past week passages and scenes from books such as Brideshead Revisited, Never Let Me Go and The Leopard have come to me whilst at work. Works such as these give context and meaning to our actions, thoughts and experiences.
In a world where conflict can appear to be escalating, decency seems to be declining and the public discourse is becoming more divisive, we need empathy.
Listening to one of the authors, Shelley Davidow, speak about her books on growing up in Apartheid era South Africa brought back fleeting, momentary and situational memories of my Johannesburg childhood in the early 1980s.
Davidow’s childhood told so movingly in her recent book “Shadow Sisters” helps me to piece together and contextualise my handful of memories of an elderly African woman named Hilda who cared for my sisters and me; swimming in pools with friends; and visiting Kruger National Park.
The realisation that I could have experienced what seems to be such a halcyon childhood in the midst of a blatantly unjust and discriminatory system helps to guide me in my own views and thoughts on social justice now in ways I don’t think I fully understand.