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Reading allows you to take a journey through boundless chasms, ceaseless plains and more importantly, embody, even if just for a moment, the feelings, attitudes and emotions of another. Even as you read this page, your inner-voice is narrating the words you see. As neurons fire and cognition ensues, you interpret each grapheme, each word and each sentence. It’s so very easy to lose sight of how privileged we are to have this function at our disposal.

My inner-voice narrates my entire day: What’s he looking at? Why is that car in the middle-lane when there’s nothing in the slow-lane? What options do I have for dinner? That same voice, the one that narrates my every thought also narrates my reading. I can speak, shout and whisper without making even the smallest of utterances aloud.

I am Iago. I am Holden Caulfield. I am Pip Pirrup. I am Epsilon Minus. Every teenager is currently something to do with an in vogue, atypical vampire! Not only can I embody the character and feel love, empathy, despair and disgust for them, but I can also set my existential anchors and social contexts by each page. When I think of reading The Catcher in the Rye, I don’t just think about Holden and his inability to translate his immaturity into something more adult and meaningful. I think of where I was when I read the book. I think of talking to friends about the character. I think of people I knew or know that remind me of the protagonist. I think of life events that came immediately before and after reading it. I think of how I loved the period of my life in which I read the book more than I enjoyed the book itself.

I spend so very much time convincing people that reading is necessarily enjoyable. It has to be. If it’s not, then you’re doing it wrong! My brother and I were once jetting off on holiday. Realising I had a book and music to accompany me on the flight, he quickly went to a newsagent and picked up something that looked interesting. Being a music lover, he chose something centred around that topic. The first page of the book advised him that he ought not to link music with memories (as I have done with books). My brother, being stubborn and developed well enough in character to know his preferences, immediately took the book back to the shop to swap it. My point is this: people are often put off by reading because they simply haven’t been given the exposure to the material they like. If you feed me salmon, I will be sick. If you show play me popular music, my ears will bleed. If you show me poetry by Carol Ann Duffy, I will cringe. Reading is no different. I probably dislike more authors than I like. But unlike the dislike, which in its measurement stops at nought, zero, nil (if I don’t like it, I couldn’t give one iota), my love for reading my favourite authors stops at nothing.



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