Lesley Peebles is my close friend who’s been part of my reading, and just as importantly, my writing life for 25 years.
Because she’s so prolific and thoughtful a reader and has given me feedback on so much of my writing, I wanted to present her ideas about writing and reading here.
How do you feel reading benefits people?
First, there are the pragmatic reasons. Most of us have to read to do our jobs, even if we’re just reading memos or instruction books. The more you practice on your own, the better you get—not just faster but deeper. Reading taught me how to write grammatically, a skill that’s still valuable though increasingly rare. It taught me how to think from different perspectives—I’m able to translate two sides of a conversation that otherwise would go nowhere.
And then there’s the sheer delight of a plot turn, a character, even a perfect sentence. The pleasure of new companions, all with new stories to tell. The escape from the mundane, the escape to a new culture. The sobering reflection to count my blessings. Reading has taught me empathy.
I share my favorite books with my friends and family. When my mother started passing me books she’d just finished, it was a rite of passage. I read aloud to my children long after they’d learned to read themselves, right up to the point where their longing to know what happened next overwhelmed the comfort of my presence.
What do you read—and why?
Read Part 2 of this interview.