Ray Bradbury On Reading

Ray Bradbury, the author who made science fiction writing a main stream category in literature, passed away this Thursday. His death was mourned by a variety of personalities, from Stephen King to Steven Spielberg, and publications from the New York Times to the Huffington Post. I had only recently discovered Mr.Bradbury works when I stumbled upon his speech at the Annual Writer’s Symposium and one of the most striking things about him, for me, was his love for his life and craft. It was clear from his voice that he did not write as a pastime or career choice, but he wrote because it brought him joy. Indeed, most of his advice in his speech centered around the idea that if one is not immensely enjoying writing, so much so that all of lives little annoyances become bearable through words, then one has no business writing in the first place. In fact, that seems to be his approach to the larger theme of approaching life as a constant attempt to be curious about the universe and let that curiosity drive one’s ambitions and actions and through the relentless pursuit of those actions, experience true happiness.

If you know how to read, you have a complete education about life, then you know how to vote within a democracy. But if you don’t know how to read, you don’t know how to decide.

More than that speech, I particularly love this interview from him in which, by any measure, he validates the importance of reading. As someone who has recently become a frequent patron of my neighborhood public library, I have been indulging myself in the mysterious and fulfilling experience that is reading without a goal. See, schools and colleges have trained many of us to associate books with mindless memorizing, where we are trying to forcefully yank the knowledge and ideas out of the pages and into our brains, all for the sake of passing an exam. But when you pick up a book, not really knowing why, but for a vague sense that something within those pages might open a portal in your mind to a place where there is hope for truth and clarity, then there is no struggle in learning. There is only a smooth flow of information and ideas. Of course, those are idealistic targets, but that is the point. Each book I pick up seems to lay one more intersection on an internal map that seems to expand with every visit to the quiet and poorly funded neighborhood public library, with only the possibility of finding a promising destination.
I had decided, when I first listened to his speech at the Writer’s Symposium that I will pick up his books next time when I am at the library, not realizing at that time, that his books tend to be put on reservation a month before one can even hope to get hold of them. If anything, his passing will only prolong the waiting times for those books, but if by that his vision of us all living a well-read life will come that much close to reality, then so be it.
Soon after I learned about Maurice Sendak, he passed away and only after a few weeks of me coming to know of Ray Bradbury, he too has left the mortal life. If its a trend, it needs to stop right now.

Books are smart and brilliant and wise. Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.


[Post: 291 of 365] [Days Missed: 104]
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