I have always been told that the best writers read a lot. The best researchers read a lot. The best students read a lot. But what do they read? Where do they find time to read? And why does it matter?
At AKA we spend a ton of time reading and writing. We write reports, assessments, instruments, recommendations, presentations, research articles, grant applications, poems, stories, and more. We connect with communities doing hard work that matters to public health and makes a difference. We write about what is happening in communities, document outcomes, make recommendations, and connect experiences to meaning represented in words. But it can be difficult to maintain a fresh perspective over time. Sometimes we write but we never know what people really think. And in some cases, we write a peer-reviewed journal article that is rejected rejected rejected, and never published. But we continue to read because we want to learn, and we want to be better writers, storytellers, and workers serving communities through research, training, and evaluation.
Here are five tips for reading right now.
Join your local library, if you check out a book and hate it, you have lost nothing.
Make time to read, preferably at the beginning of the day, when your mind is fresh, and the possibilities are infinite.
Read about topics you know nothing about.
Share what you are reading with others, I love it when someone recommends a good book. A book that has fundamentally changed how they think, feel, do, or act.
If you cannot read, listen to books on tape, or listen to audio recordings of The New Yorker while driving your kids to school.
Books I cannot put down…
Why… if we live long enough we will experience trauma. This book is about what happens after trauma and how we heal. Unresolved trauma is one of the most wicked health problems of our time.
Why… I believe we are all on a path. This path is informed and driven by what we believe and what we value. This collection of essays makes me feel connected, hopeful, and at peace.
Why… you can do anything but not everything is a quote from this book. And it is true. This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to be a better version of themselves. Why not?
Why… trees talk to one another. My teenage daughter has known this for a while. We talked about this podcast, the mother trees, what they leave us, and the impacts of climate change. This talk and book are must-haves, even if you know nothing about mycorrhizal networks. I certainly did not.
Someone once said, if you want to really know what you think, write it down. Some call this stream of consciousness writing. And if you want someone to know your thoughts, ask them to read your writing. We read and write because we can. This is definitely a privilege and one of the things we like most about our work at AKA.