“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” ~Jean Rhys
Perhaps the most universal piece of advice for writers is, “Read, read, read!” Let me just amen that, brother-slash-sister-choose-one, and add this: In addition to reading to yourself, read with someone you love.
My wife and I have been reading aloud together since we first started dating 35 years ago. The stories we’ve experienced—the classics, the disappointments, and everything in between—have formed rich layers of strata in the thing called Us. Our reading, as a shared vicarious experience, has made the journey of we-two-opposites much less opposite, forming a major tributary in the river of Who We Are (yes, I know, honey, I flirted dangerously with a mixed metaphor just then).
Our reading together has enhanced our love of Story. And in discussing the stories we’ve read, rather than merely musing over them in isolation, we’ve enriched our understanding of what makes a story Story. And as a result, we’ve become better storytellers ourselves.
About two minutes after each of our children were born, we inducted them into the cult of Story. They’ve never lost their faith, never turned agnostic. In fact, they’ve abducted many of their friends into the sect. Because, you see, it doesn’t just work for lovers, it works for all lovers of Story.
So read, yes, by all means, shamelessly and publicly. But also find someone to read with. Whether you read aloud together or separately and then discuss it together (I love the former, but respect the latter), find someone to love Story with…
And you will grow as a story teller.
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” ~Harper Lee
“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” ~James Baldwin
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ~Anna Quindlen