Sunday, September 9, 2018

Read and Relish

Rachel Burnham writes: From time to time I see articles that remind us how assorted well known successful people all read a humongous number of books each month. I have occasionally had exchanges with individuals who report ‘reading’ or rather listening to a book a week.  I notice comments from people who have set themselves a target to read a certain number of books a year, but are confessing that they are not succeeding in doing this.  I hear people saying they aspire to read more.  I hear people apologising for not reading much.  And there are services now that claim they can abbreviate books so that you can ‘read’ the key points from 5 books in a day!

I find myself at odds with this. 

Not because I don’t thinking reading books is a good thing.  I love to read, it is my lifeblood.  I have always been a bookworm. I am never happier than when I have my nose in a book – well possibly, if listening to live jazz, played in a garden, whilst reading!  My home is filled with books of all sorts – fiction, histories, picture books, business books, books about gardening, books about physics, books about patchwork, Greek plays (my son’s influence), thrillers, poetry, books about books.  Books are a kind of extra insulation layer to the house.

I usually have several books on the go at a time – usually some fiction, often a work related book of some kind and probably some a non-fiction book. I make time in my week to read.  I turn the television off or retreat to my bedroom to read.  I have been known to take a week off work to read.   But at most I read about 40 books a year – I know, I keep a list.  I have lists going back many years now.  I will never reach the output of books read that some of these articles report or that some people set themselves as targets – I like time to think about what I read.

One of the joys of reading for me, is pausing and pondering – letting my imagination wander, seeing the world created in a work of fiction come to life in my mind or exploring the ideas and connecting them and applying them in life.   I find I can’t do that if I race through a book. 

I think reading is about the journey, not the destination.  For me it is not the ticking off of a checklist or a point towards a target.  I think there’s a risk of missing out on the delights along the way, of not digesting what has been written, so I prefer to take my reading slowly.

Read for pleasure.  Read for learning.  Read to share with others.  Read for information.  Read to be amused.  Read to have your mind boggled.  Read out loud, for the sounds and rhythms.  Read for the pictures and diagrams, for the bindings and design.  Read for the smell of a new book. Read to be provoked.  Read to critique.  Read to have your bias confirmed or challenged.  Read to inform your own writing. Read to apply.  Read to inspire.  Read to fire up your experimentation.  Read to hear other voices.  Read to visit other places or times. Read to escape.  Read to relax.  But above all read and relish.

Rachel Burnham


Burnham L & D works with individuals and organisations to help them learn and work more effectively.  As part of this I help L&D professionals to be even more effective through updating their skills and know-how.  I have a particular interest in curation and the use of digital technologies in learning.  I frequently Sketchnote at events and offer workshops in Sketchnoting.  

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