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The Word On The Street Blog

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Reading the Rails, Part 6: Conclusion: Reading is Awesome

September 22, 2010

By Heather Holditch

As we approach The Word On The Street, I want to say a few words in support of reading.

I recently began working as an intern for a publishing company. As an intern, I make zero dollars per hour; needless to say I have a hard time paying the bills. Where I AM saving money, however, is at Chapters in that I don’t buy my books anymore. Review copies are plentiful. My internship is feeding my addiction to good literature. I have enough unread books to last me well into the New Year, but when I am offered a free book, regardless of subject matter, I cannot refuse.

People ask me where I am interning. I tell them, and (alarmingly) more often than not I am met with blank stares. It’s the largest publishing house in Canada, I tell them. Check your books, the odds are at least one of them will have been published by my employer.

I don’t really read, they say.

Umm, what?

Reading is so much a part of my life I can’t even begin to comprehend that there are those who simply do not enjoy it. Not a birthday or holiday comes around that I don’t go through a mental list of what books the birthday girl might like or my Secret Santa would enjoy.

But one person who doesn’t enjoy reading can’t dampen my hopes of a literacy-loving society. I take solace in the fact that reading for enjoyment has survived the radio, the silent movies, the talkies, the television, the internet, and everything else that has attempted to distract its audience. It has persevered as a beloved Canadian past time.

Lovers of books read books, and will always read books, during their free time, especially when they have free time on a mentally draining and emotionally exhaustive commute. This morning on the subway, I noticed a woman reading Miriam Toews “A Complicated Kindness.” Is it because I suggested this book in this blog? Absolutely, 100% yes.*

I feel I have done my part to encourage reading. Now I pass the literacy torch to you. Curling up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a good book is a heavenly way to spend an afternoon. But public reading (reading in the park, at the local coffee shop, or on the subway), is the best billboard advertisement for your favourite book—and reading in general—that money can buy. It’s like seeing Italians eating at an Italian restaurant. You know it’s good food. Someone seeing a fellow reader reading the latest Toews (, King (, or Choy ( will no doubt encourage him to pick it up too.

Read what you love and pass that love along.

*Statistics are almost certainly false. “A Complicated Kindness” was likely chosen by this particular woman because she has excellent taste in Canadian literature. She has probably never read this blog or even heard of me.

This week’s Commuter’s Choice: Me Sexy

Drew Hayden Taylor has assembled a remarkable collection of 13 essays about the First Nations’ take on sexuality and sexual identity. Funny, frank, and fearless, this collection deals with creation, recreation, and sexual stigma. Contributors include Lee Maracle, Tomson Highway, and Joseph Boyden, including an essay by Taylor. Never dull, a fantastic read to liven up even the dreariest of commutes.

But don’t take my word for it. Come out to The Word On The Street and see what the world of Canadian literature has to offer for your daily commute.