“When you read, you’re listening to one voice, and it slows things down.”
“You can’t write unless you can read” — how true these words of Raphael’s are! And how important this is for us to remember, which is why I jotted them down in a notebook emblazoned with a quote from Jane Austen that echoed his words: “There is no enjoyment like reading!”
Raphael is the author of a warm, witty book, Father’s Day: Encounters with Everyday Life, and a lifelong reading enthusiast who believes passionately in the power of storytelling (see Willing Accomplices). In a fascinating, wide-ranging Write Group program called, “How to Read and Write Non-Fiction: Putting Together the Puzzle of Your Life,” Raphael explored the many ways in which reading non-fiction illuminates both our lives and our writing. As he said so well: “A book reads you: it tells you what matters to you.” He also shared some
wonderful ideas for reading dangerously and adventurously:
Read what matters to you: To enliven your reading experience, make a list of subjects that you care about — that will help you delve into mysteries and life themes that speak to your personal life quest. Raphael shared his list, which included: Storytelling, The God
Question, Past to Present, The Self, America. This prompted me to start jotting down my own list: Storytelling & Craft, Nature & Energy Transfer, Resilience, Medieval Times.
Read deeply and actively: Raphael shared some of the books he’s delved into to illuminate The God Question for him, ranging from: Heaven and Man Seeks God to The World Without Us and Immortality. Carefully annotating key passages (with removable transparent slips — this is a book lover!), Raphael actively engages with each text — allowing a book to “read him” by illuminating his own experience and letting him discover and connect new ideas.
Read with an open, curious mind: “Any learning involves a certain amount of surrender,” notes Raphael. The key to passionate reading is being ready, willing, and able to be surprised and enriches by fresh insights an author offers and the insights they trigger. Curiosity not only enriches us, it also educates us — reminds us of what we already know.
Passionate readers are passionate writers. Bravo, Raphael — read on, write on!