Friday, May 19, 2017

Reading For Pleasure: a Manifesto from Mostly Books

How do you prise yourself away from the Internet?

All of us increasingly live our lives connected to this evolving, rapacious many-headed hydra whose digital tentacles reach inside our lives and - increasingly - our minds. We wake up and check our phones, tweet our thoughts and instagram our lives, using satnavs, computers and tablets constantly - and all the time providing enormous amounts of data which are collected and used in a feedback loop of influence which affects everything from what we eat to how we vote.


Whilst this sounds like something from a dystopian YA novel - and before you freak out and head for the hills - what it actually means is that we as a species need to slay this mythical beast - or at least get it back under control. Like fire, free-markets and technology in general, the Internet is a great servant and an extremely poor master.

We think books are great places to start. A simple work of fiction, bought anonymously in an independent bookshop, allows you to disconnect from the hive mind and be alone with your thoughts. Reading for pleasure away from the digital world may be one of the most under-rated tools in our mental armoury, allowing us to create a firebreak from a crazy world coming at us 24/7 through a digital fire hose.

We are story machines, and we need to constantly replenish our pool of stories to help us navigate the world, and understand our place in it.

Reading for pleasure demands no tangible end result, no 'deliverable', or new piece of knowledge to pass an exam. It does not require a measure of how far you are through the book, or how you rate it, or even a crude emotional output on a screen which attaches itself to a 'profile' and 'defines you going forward'. Instead, reading builds empathy and tolerance, strengthens focus and calms distractions, and - in the face of ever closer digital integration, may be the ultimate revolutionary act.

This is our manifesto for reading for pleasure. Join us!

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