Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Lingering Power of Books and Reading

By Rachel O'Neill - New Zealand Book Council Newsletter
New Zealand Book Month will be inspiring New Zealanders throughout March to enjoy the many ways that ‘Books Change Lives’. This has got me thinking about personal and transformative book experiences and how these take place on the page and keep empowering us off the page too. When we pick up a life-changing read, meet an author face to face or listen to a writer speak at a book festival about what they do, we are compelled to step into new worlds and be changed by the experience.
Cartoonist Dylan Horrocks will take part in our Speed Date an Author event in Auckland next month. For him books possess a lingering power to shape you at any age. He says, ‘Many books I read when I was young shaped how I see the world. Now in my forties, I still come across a few books a year that change everything.
‘My teenage son recently made me read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, a harrowing exploration of factory farming and the ethical, environmental and social issues around the way we farm, kill and eat animals. Not only has it changed what I eat, it got me thinking about how slippery and evasive and wilfully blind we tend to be on all kinds of ethical issues. Months later, I still think about that book every single day.’
At the heart of great reader experiences are books that exhilarate us with dashes of surprise, nuance and persuasiveness. Often as readers we really want to understand how writers achieve such feats on the page. While some send out surveys to great authors, like this student did in 1963, others just keep reading.
Read the article in full, with further contributions by Melinda Szymanik, Barbara Else and Sarah Laing.

Rachel O'Neill
Rachel O'Neill is a writer and artist living in Wellington, New Zealand. In 2008 she completed an MA in creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters and in 2005 she completed a BA/BFA conjoint degree at The University of Auckland.

1 comment:

JonathanN said...

Thanks so much for the post. Great read!! Really looking forward to read more. Want more.