To describe me as a “bookworm” would be a laughable understatement.
Growing up, I read as if there were no tomorrow. Redwall, Sherlock Holmes, The Hardy Boys—all these and more I devoured with great gusto. I read enthusiastically. Unashamedly. My thirst for books seemed unquenchable.
As a boy, I appreciated reading primarily for its entertainment value. What better way to spend lazy summer afternoons than immersing yourself in the rich plots of classics like Treasure Island, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Around the World in 80 Days?
Then, as I grew older and diversified my reading intake, the terrific educational value of reading became apparent. The more I read, the more I knew. History, religion, geography: all subjects elucidated by books written by people wiser than me.
Today, I recognize something else: reading is a key to skillful writing. Perhaps the key. Those who write well read much. When you read, you don’t just entertain yourself. You don’t just soak in facts and boost your IQ. You in fact mature your comprehension of language, thereby improving your writing style.
An example: I’m now reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. While the plot is certainly intriguing, what actually impresses me most about this book is Doerr’s brilliant diction. He describes characters unforgettably. He illustrates scenes precisely and beautifully. He wields words lucidly, forcefully, inspiringly. As a bookworm-turned-writer, I stand in awe of such expertise. Occasionally, I wonder if I will ever be able to write like that.
Right now, I don’t know.
But one thing I do know. Those who write well read much.