Australian Reading Hour, 20 September

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I’ve never met a bookshop I haven’t liked. So this Thursday, for Australian Reading Hour, I’m going to be spending some time in bookshops telling anyone who will listen why reading is wonderful.

Wait, hang on… I hear you say. Thursday is Australian Reading Hour? Huh?

Well the deal is that on Thursday, you take some time – one hour, to be precise – out of your day to indulge in some reading.

I’m presuming most people who peruse my little blog will be unlikely to need convincing about the benefits of reading. But here are some of my favourite reasons why reading rocks (borrowed from the Australian Reading Hour website and tailored for me).

  • Apparently reading is great for stress relief. Thinking back books I’ve read, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. But I have to admit, stressing about things like dragons eating you, or being pursued across stormy oceans by ships of war bristling with canons, or being cursed by a vengeful fairy into premature old age, is so much more fun that stressing about credit card bills and deadlines.
  • Reading a gripping novel causes positive biological changes in the brain that can last for days. Some of these positive change can be embarrassing, such as forgetting you’re not in the 18th Century. But the buzz is pleasant. (Less positive brain changes involve things like lingering sadness that men no longer wear knee breeches, tricorn hats and frock coats, but with time we learn to adjust.)
  • When tested for empathy, readers of narrative fiction achieved significantly higher than other groups. I mean, of course. Empathy is about being able to identify with other people’s experiences. And when you have actually kind of been another person for a good chunk of time, of course you’re going to have increased your capacity for empathy.
  • Reading is closely linked to increasing our understanding of our own identities, or in my case, understanding that the kind of fairy tale princess I wanted to be was the kind that was capable of doing things like climbing down an ancient wisteria vine to run away from home, or being able to survive in a forest for six months with only a friendly squirrel and a talkative raven for company.

Anyway, if you’re in Canberra next week & you want to hang out in a cool bookshop and chat about reading, I’ll be here:

3.00-4.30pm Bookface, The Marketplace, Gunghalin

6.00-8.00pm Harry Hartog Bookseller, Westfield Woden; with children’s author, Tania McCartney & the Guardian Australia’s political editor, Katherine Murphy.

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