The Joy of Reading

Nude Reading 1992 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997


Artwork: Roy Lichtenstein, Nude Reading, 1994

Laced with characteristic whimsy and ebullient charm, this comic response offers a parodic and unassailably rousing panegyric of reading, aiming to understand this generation’s lack of novelistic enthusiasm. Eschewing a traditional academic style, Farmer’s rakish, evergreen prose never fails to put a smile on one’s face.

by Aiden Farmer

Much like the immortal Bob Ross in The Joy of Painting, I try to entice my esteemed audience to take up the joy of creative exercise, in this case reading and the comforts of the wrinkled leaves of a good novel. Reading, among the old and the young, has seemingly been trumped by the invasion of technology that has welcomed us with doomed frivolity, trying with might to pull us into the ever-developing tide of social media, skyping and searching. But why has this wave swept so many of our generation into the hellish vision of online dating, the insidious effervescence of social media? Many ideas spring to mind, with the argument being firmly wired with the idiosyncratic tendencies of a prolonged book: the space required to transport, the minute lettering and hand aching to name a few. Surely these faults heighten the tradition and history that is reading? Why burn out your retinas with the light of a phone screen at night when you could be enjoying the inimitable adventures of A. A. Milne (yes, with a slight hand-ache)? Alas dear reader, the joy of reading has been marred by factors all too separate from the distractions of invention; one often struggles with the grips of a beautifully composed read and the cathartic pain that some may see before them. I do however painfully raise my hand at this particular characteristic; I have been known to have an air of reluctance when it comes to starting a book. Despite the pride that I carry when one has been started, the demon within has caused me to have three or four on the go, all with book marks on page 50, never to be finished, or, if so, have a conclusion in the latter part of the next year. Thankfully I have changed somewhat, but the ghost of this feeling has definitely threatened a reappearance. But dear reader, remind yourself of the thrills and joy of our human tales once comprehended and analysed, and recognise the importance of them. For this feeling, one does not have to venture into the realms of Jane Austin or D. H. Lawrence, but to anyone who provides a story to tell. I was recently entertained by the inventive YA novel The Rest of us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, which is not filled to the brim with words that resemble the final of a spelling bee, but is simple prose that recounts the everyday story of an everyday person. And so – I turn to you to arm yourself with a newspaper or a hardback Dickens and fight for the joy of reading!

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