The death of science fiction and fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury, last week prompted many tributes and reruns of interviews. The NPR program, “Fresh Air,” ran an interview with him where Bradbury spoke of reading for our “mental hygiene.” He grew up reading the Bible and classic works of literature. He suggested that we read a poem, an essay, and a short story each night before bed. Then he felt we’d feel positive and creative thoughts swirl through us. We wouldn’t rely on the easy, pop psychological pablum—my words, not his—but would be elevated in our thinking, feeling, and acting.
Literature is one of the foundations for my mental health, though aspiring to publish can trigger anguish and self-doubt. I often divide my life between pre-blind and post-blind, feeling that the first part was the more shallow half. I credit myself with growth in self-awareness and world-awareness, if not wisdom. Then I slam into some gaff I’ve made and wonder if I’ve grown at all in these many decades.
How many more blunders would I make if I weren’t a reader?