Nonreaders miss out on a world of adventures

October 21, 2007|By LINDA DUFFIELD

To be able to read is one thing. But to enjoy reading is to have the whole world at your fingertips.

Readers, those for whom reading is a joy, can travel back in time or check out the future.

They can solve mysteries with Hercule Poirot or Lucas Davenport. They can hitch a ride on a spaceship and travel to far-flung galaxies, probe the minds of the great philosophers and find out what motivated people, real and fictional, such as Eve Dallas, Lady Chatterley, Che Guevara, John F. Kennedy, Dagny Taggart and Florence Nightingale.

Historians and strategists can pick apart Civil War battles, land on Omaha Beach or patrol the streets of Saigon and Baghdad.

Through books we can see the world, learn about points of view we might not otherwise have considered, feel sorrow, compassion, joy or empathy for people we will never meet, but whom we know almost as well as we do ourselves.


A good book can keep us company when we're lonely, stimulate us when we're bored and console us when we're down. A book can engage us and make us laugh. A book can make us cry.

Even though I speak from experience, don't take my word for the delights of reading. Check out information about The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to give people a chance to discover the joys of reading.

Locally, Big Read activities began in September and included a showing of Harper Lee's timeless "To Kill a Mockingbird" at The Maryland Theatre as well as readings of and discussions about the book, art shows and more.

Other than some ongoing activities, today marks the last planned 2007 Big Read event here.

Valley Mall will host the event, which includes drama sketches by the Authentic Community Theatre and Washington County Public Schools middle school performing arts classes.

Artwork and essays will be on display.

Nearly 200 communities participated this year in The Big Read, created in response to an NEA report that identified a critical decline in literary reading, according to the NEA Web site.

The study found that fewer than half of adults in America read literature, defined for this survey as any novels, short stories, poetry and drama, with no distinctions made for quality or length.

The study also noted that although reading is declining among all age groups, the steepest decline is in the youngest age groups, according to the NEA Web site at

What a shame.

The aspect of the study's findings that most saddens me is this: Many people will never know the sheer joy of reading a book they love.

Linda Duffield is associate editor of The Herald-Mail. ou can reach her at

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