When I was eight years old, I left Nova Scotia with my family and moved to Europe where I lived for the next five years – becoming a Third Culture Kid in the process. What I didn’t realize as I got on the plane to go was that I was leaving television behind – I wouldn’t watch it for the next five years. My last television memories were of the JFK funeral coverage – our flight left within days of that event.
My five years in Europe turned me into a reader. Books became the places where dramas, comedies, tragedy, history and more danced between my left and right brain. (My love for the dying art form, radio drama, was also kindled at that time – where voices, music and sound effects helped build the stories in my mind.)
Today I read for pleasure, for education and for greater understanding of culture. The books I have on the go right now are Edward Rutherfurd’s The Princes of Ireland, Keith Ferrazi’s Never Eat Alone, Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and, as mentioned yesterday, Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind. The latest Elizabeth George sits by the side of my bed tempting me to pick it up. (I’ve read all her books. She is one of my favourite mystery writers.)
As much as I love wandering through a Borders or Chapters bookstore, Amazon has become the primary supplier to feed my addiction. Their software is learning my buying habits and making recommendations – reasonably good ones, at that.
Imbi is just as avid a reader as I am – one of the many wonderful reasons I married her. While tag team reading a number of the above books, she’s also reading Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Urban Futurist Jane Jacobs Dark Age Ahead. The Art of Looking Sideways sits on one of tables in our lounge – a refreshing eye pool of ideas and challenges – we dive into it regularly.
When our eldest child, Liam, was seven, we severely restricted TV for all three kids. People found it odd that while we made most of our living from working with broadcasters and commercial producers, we would "deny" our children access. But we had become tired of the constant commercial replays coming out of our kids’ mouths. Initially it was only a three month moratorium. It continues to some degree, today and Liam is now 18. (And yes this did create certain cultural problems for them as they could not discuss in detail the visual spam their friends were ingesting.)
Today, all three of our kids are avid readers. And when the boys aren’t reading (or doing their chores/homework – yeah right!) they’re either in multiple conversations with friends on MSN or they are working in our home studio writing songs and recording. Our daughter (almost completely educated in French) is normally found with us in the lounge with a book in hand (when she isn’t conscientiously doing her homework).
Reading has opened up whole new worlds to the five of us. It has empowered our family discourse and made our discussions all the more interesting. (I confess I DO get tired of losing to my kids on TOO many occasions – perhaps I should restrict books, next. Not!)
Now all I need to do is break my Amazon addiction and learn to use a public library – that is when they begin to delivery the books and I get to keep them on my shelves!