Sunday, 7 June 2015

Adventures in reading by Bryony Pearce

Thank you for the Stripes Publishing team and Bryony Pearce for this wonderful guest post about adventures in reading. Be sure to check out Pearce's book, Phoenix Rising which has been reviewed here. Also, there's a matching author interview post which can be found heeerrrreee. And finally be sure to check out the other stops on this epic blog tour, which you can view at your leisure, here! Phew, now onto the post we go.

I’ve been an adventurous reader for my whole life.  Not just in what I have read, but in how I read. I have amazing peripheral vision and have been well known everywhere I’ve lived as ‘the girl / lady who walks and reads’.  Strangely, people are always stopping me and asking what I’m reading.  You’d think people would be put off buy the clear privacy zone that usually delineates a reader, but the sheer novelty of seeing someone walking down the street with their nose in a book must bring out the sociable in people. I can even read and push a pram, while using a crutch – and that’s a long story. The only place I haven’t been able to read is the car, because I get car sick!  It breaks my heart, all those hours wasted staring out of the window, when I could have been reading. I don’t read like this because I’m desperate to escape the world but because I’m addicted to stories. They are such an inescapable part of us. The famous palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould defined man as ‘the primate who tells stories’. Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen say “The most significant contribution that our large brain made to our approach to the universe was to endow us with the power of story.  We are pan narrans.  The storytelling ape.” Man has been telling stories since the first moment he looked from his cave, saw the stars and said, “those look like a bear!”

Stories have been told from the campfire to the office water cooler, from the nursery to the old people’s home. Stories are a part of us from birth. Our parents tell us stories.  I read to my daughter while she was still in the womb.  Our lives are made up of stories.  Stories to comfort us (your hamster went to heaven, Riley and he loves you very much), stories to protect us (my mother said, I never should, play with the pixies in the wood), stories to inspire us (why did we fly a rocket to the moon?  Perhaps because Jules Verne suggested it), stories to frighten and excite us (Bloody Mary lives in the school bathroom). 

Stories make us human and they hold together our communities.  Stories tell us we are the same as others, the same family, the same beliefs, the same opinions.  Is it any surprise that the words community and communication have the same root ‘communis’ – common, shared by all or many. Communication is the key to community and stories are the soul of communication.

I personally, cannot imagine my life without story.  It would be so bland.  Stories are everywhere, not only in books but in gossiping with my friends, in listening to my son spin a tale about his day, in watching television and yes, in reading. Reading my children’s bed-time stories bonds us and reading when I go to bed relaxes me.

Reading is essential. A recent study has shown that teenagers who read at least once a month are ‘significantly’ more likely to progress to a professional or managerial position than those who did not read.  For boys in the study, there was a 58% probability that they would be in a managerial position at 33 if they read (for fun) at 16.  In other words reading for fun, leads to success. Teens who read for fun score better on tests for spelling, vocabulary, empathy and public speaking.  
Reading is important and what feeds the reader, the writer - and what feeds the writer?  The story.

Phoenix Rising is a straight up, rollicking adventure story, it has its messages, but its damn sure an adventure in reading. I hope you enjoy it. 

To find out more about Bryony Pearce and her writing, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter @BryonyPearce

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