Eric Forbes’s latest post about the lack of reading by Malaysians has prompted this post. Yes, writers need to read and read and read. Writers also need to write and write. Just like writers need to eat and sleep.

We of the Astro generation spend so much of our time in front of the box that hours, valuable hours in which we could have been digesting KS Maniam, Lee Kok Liang, Tash Aw, Dina Zaman, Lydia Teh or Xeus, have shot by. And when we turn off the TV we feel unfulfilled. Time has been wasted. I have always felt modern living to be the great thief of time. I find reading slows in down. It gives us time for contemplation. Time to just be.

And so much on TV is pure crap. Reality TV is but a prime example. Why do we bother watching what’s on the screen? Because it’s the best of all that’s on offer. And what’s on offer is sometimes so pathetic. Why just sit back and watch. It’s all one way traffic. Why not reach out for a book? Reading is a two way street, a two way interaction between author and reader.

John Fowles, the author of The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, passed away a couple of years back. He had this to say:

“The cinema and television have proved it only too well being, in general, so stereotyped and inferior – often just plain bad…The spectacle of how many of the young today seem dazzled and dazed by the vulgarity and cheap tricks of those media is sad and sobering…Talking about reading is like talking about flight in a world rapidly becoming flightless.”

I hope it’s not true that most of the world has stopped reading. I see blogging, writing and reading the posts and contributing comments as a saviour. Because it causes us to read and write. This leads to greater and better thought.

Tonight I will turn the TV off and pick up a book.

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