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Letters on Tuesdays – Until A Basket to Reach Into

Dear Wilton,

Though we are thirteen years apart, as siblings growing up with nearly identical upbringings, we have many similarities. You grew up surrounded by the very books your sisters and I read. Over the years, I have seen you develop a love for reading through them. Like me, you are captivated by books and we have voracious appetites for the written word. I am certain it is because our books give us wings, wings to fly into foreign and imagined lands. The written word can easily become magic in a young mind. The written word relaxes us and takes us places where our worries become thin air and where our fears are replaced by a character’s.

There are untold amounts of joy when I see you engrossed in one of my old novels. I can imagine you going through the same emotions, the same questions, and the same challenges with each book. Though it pains me to see  you having less care for the physical conditions of the books than I, for many were still in near pristine condition when I last touched them. Our mother always questioned if I ever read those books, despite the pages being cut. It is never a question with you. In your hands, their spines become folded, their pages dogeared, their covers battered. I could never foster in you the same care. Perhaps as you grow older, I could.

However, back to the main road of this discussion. As you grow out of the young adult novels and move into the realm of “serious” literature, I look forward to the possibility of discussing themes and plots with you. The older I get, the more fond I am of the time-enduring classics. Despite the impressions some of them might leave in high school, you will find yourself understanding these books very differently later. The slow and gradual filling of your basket of life experiences will nourish and color your understanding. It might even fuel your appreciation for books that left a bad taste.

My hope is that you will be able to maintain your love of reading and your habit of reading until you have a basket of experiences. The need to pursue so-called careers and life goals, more often than not, drains one of any energy or motivation to continue reading. This phenomena is very evident once you enter the workforce. It is unfortunate because reading makes you a more effective and precise communicator of ideas and thoughts; a skill that will actually propel you further in your career. Even more so, it is most unfortunate because it is precisely when you enter the workforce and become truly independent that your basket begins to fill; it is precisely when you begin to better understand the intricacies of the written word.

As I look around at this point in my life, many of my colleagues and peers seldom or no longer read anymore. I can easily empathize. There are days when I am so completely drained, I have no desire to do anything of substance. Yet to that I say, try your darnedest to keep up a reading habit. I try to read at least a book a week and so far I have managed. I firmly believe that this habit has allowed me perspective to digest my own basket of experiences and to use my basket to better understand what I read — life mirrors books; books mirror life.

Finally, I remember that you desire becoming a writer. It is my strong advice that you maintain your reading habit until you have a fuller basket to reach into. If you lose your reading habit, you will never be able to weave your basket full of experiences into your own voice. Remember, a voice is gold for a writer.

With love,

Your Brother

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