Just how ‘well read’ are you?
Are you the type who has a pile of books stacked beside the bed and would never dream of turning the light out until you’d digested an hour of your latest novel?
Do you buy academic journals like they’re going out of fashion, and ask every relative or loved one to purchase you something literary for Christmas?
I suspect we’ve all seen a change in how and what we read in the last decade – thanks in no small part to how the literary self-publishing industry has changed, in tandem with technology changing the way we leaf through a book (or, more likely, swipe the page of a kindle).
I was born a reader.
Well, I say ‘born’, but whether you subscribe to the nature or nurture argument, I was exhibiting my enquiring book-loving mind by two, and had been taught to read by three (thanks Mum) and long before starting school. But shamefully, I have to admit that today I rarely buy a physical book, and it’s only ever so occasionally I’ll react to the review of a new wordy release and make a concerted effort to buy and read it.
But does this mean I’m no longer a reader, no longer exercising my grey matter via the written word….? Far from it.
On a typical day, I’ll be consuming the written word long, long before I might have done in my morning routine 15 years ago during my early career as a journalist. Now, instead of waiting to reach the newsroom to dissect a paper, I’ll be informing myself with content of opinion and fact well before I’ve shovelled in the first spoon of cornflakes.
By 6am I’ve usually trawled blogs, social media links, web postings, news feeds, and authoritative trade discussion forums pertinent to my clients or my business life. Yes, believe it or not, some of us do value the invention of social media for something other than the chance to keep up on Susie’s love life or to hear what the celebrity world is bleating on about this week!
So is it a bad thing that reading, and indeed, the written word, is having its place in our lives through this contemporary channel?
Should I be chastising myself for not having that metre-high stash of books at my bedside? I don’t believe so.
Whatever career we’re in, I think if technology and appetite means we can relay and digest content from many different voices and perspectives, this has to be a good thing. That’s not to say I don’t still have a love of book shops, or a need to buy beautifully illustrated books for my growing nieces. I do and I embrace it.
And as I write, I’ve just read in one sitting the latest book released by Oprah Winfrey – ‘Things I Know For Sure’. Which, it has to be said, I only felt inspired to buy…..after reading its review on a number of online threads!
**Deborah Watson is a communications consultant, specialising in helping businesses address their internal and external comms as part of an overall picture of business improvement. She also manages blog content and social media channels for businesses of all size and scope.