Those are not my words, but the headline for a Frank Bruni column in The New York Times. Yes, I know I borrow much from The Times,but it is the paper of record, and gives us “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” so why not pass on its pearls of wisdom.
In his column, Bruni talks about what tweeting and our fast-paced social media has spawned: “a revved-up metabolism and roughened-up manners.” Too true. So much for what my mother used to say: “There’s never any excuse for rudeness.”
But back to Bruni. He goes on to tell us that “there was talk this year about the benefits of an activity that’s in some way the antithesis of texting and tweeting…That activity is reading fiction. People who settle into it are more empathetic – more attuned to what those around them think and feel” then people who aren’t turning pages – actual or digital.
“I’d bet big on real reading, fiction or nonfiction,” Bruni adds, “as a prompt for empathy and a whole lot more: coolheadedness, maybe even open-mindedness, definitely deliberation.” All of which we need more of in 2014 and beyond.
Currently, I’ve got a trio of reads going (photos above and below). I pick up one, then the other. Repeat. Although to give it its full due, soon I plan on staying the course with Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Lowland.” My good pal Laurie invited me to attend a recent event at the New York Public Library – a conversation between the authors Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a fantastic evening. And guess what: Patchett and Gilbert first got to know one another well by exchanging letters, the real ones. Love that.
Then, via my also good pal, Ghia, I happened upon “On Writing Short Stories.” A benefit of Jack’s recent stay at Mass General in Boston was nesting at Ghia’s in Cambridge. As I roamed the shelves of her bookcase I latched on to “On Writing” which had been a textbook of her daughter’s in high school. All kinds of advice on writing short stories. Many by the greats such as Chekhov and Hemingway are also included. Hard to put down.
May your 2014 be filled with many hours of great reading, open-mindedness and deliberation. And, as for myself, I should add stop procrastinating to that list. I started this post weeks ago and now just sending it off. Since then we’ve migrated to FL to ride out the frigid temps up north. My continuing ed efforts, of course, involve reading and writing so this year’s class, “Reading as a Writer,” is a delight. Once a week I join about 15 other Seniors to dig deeper into Graham Greene’s “The End of the Affair,” just another chapter for me and my love affair with books.