Monsters love2read

2012 is the National Year of Reading here in Australia, a campaign by the libraries of Australia to promote literacy under the banner of love2read .

I was shocked to learn that 46% of Australians struggle to read a newspaper or to follow a recipe. Although 99% of the population qualify as literate according to the strict definition of being able to read and write to a basic level by the age of 15, almost half the population struggles to read effectively. And so the love2read campaign got me thinking about the role reading has played in forming modern society. Of the various catalysts for change over the past five hundred years, from the Renaissance to the Scientific Revolution, from the Reformation to the Age of Enlightenment, reading has been central to them all.

It’s easy to dismiss reading fiction as a frivolous exercise, irrelevant to modern life, but that fails to appreciate the impact of pathos on the mind of the reader. Like dreams, reading fiction exercises the imagination, which is important for a healthy mind.

Reading seems passive, but it’s not. Reading actively engages the mind, stimulating and provoking thoughts and emotions. Whether it’s science fiction, fantasy, romance, an adventure or a tragedy, books provide us with a place of refuge, somewhere from which we can recharge and engage further with life.

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

The central premise in my latest book, Monsters, is that we should not take public literacy for granted because it is a relatively modern development in history, and one that could easily be lost.

At the time I started writing Monsters, I thought, “Perhaps I’m stretching things too far in this book, beyond the realms of credibility. We could never lose the scientific knowledge upon which our civilization is built, could we?

Since then, I’ve been appauled to hear about the attack on Malala Yousufzai, a 14 year old Pakistani girl who was shot in a cowardly ambush by the Taliban. Her “crime?” Malala wanted other girls to have access to education.

It’s tempting to say, “Oh, how horrible, but that’s in the Third World.” And yet we are not immune from such idiocy in the West. Recently, US Congressman Paul Broun announced that evolution and the Big Bang Theory are “lies” from “the pit of hell.” Although this seems like a comment spoken out of ignorance, Congressman Broun is a doctor of medicine and serves on the state of Georgia’s House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

In Italy, we have seen scientists convicted as criminals and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict an earthquake in L’Aquila. Claudio Eva described the ruling, quite appropriately, as “medieval.”

The appalling reality of the Taliban, political leaders like Paul Broun and the judicial process around the tragedy at L’Aquila make the concept of burning people at the stake suddenly seem not quite so unthinkable. Our hold on scientific and rational thinking is anything but assured. Monsters makes the case that we should consider reading as one of the pillars of modern society.

Monsters is a dystopian novel set against the backdrop of the collapse of civilization.
The fallout from a passing comet contains a biological pathogen, not a virus or a living organism, just a collection of amino acids, but these cause animals to revert to the age of the mega-fauna, when monsters roamed Earth.
Bruce Dobson is a reader. With the fall of civilization, reading has become outlawed. Superstitions prevail, and readers are persecuted like the witches and wizards of old. Bruce and his son James seek to overturn the prejudices of their day and restore the scientific knowledge central to their survival, but monsters lurk in the dark.

On a lighter note, a friend’s young daughter overheard I was about to release a new book around my birthday and made me a birthday card in the style of a book cover. I thought you’d enjoy seeing her art work.

Monsters is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

I hope you love2read

9 thoughts on “Monsters love2read

  1. I had hoped my book would have the added benefit of helping kids, who might not otherwise do well with reading, learn to become more literate. The material is fun, factual and useful – things that appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys. I even made my hero a boy, just for that reason. I think it’s sad that some people have never learned to master this skill, so essential to getting along in today’s world.

    • I like the way they settled on love2read as their slogan, as that’s the key… if people love to read they’ll read voraciously and be better for it, so it sounds like your story is set in the right vein to accomplish that with kids

  2. Fiction also helps readers role play, consider how they’d act in a similar situation. Would they have handled it differently and what might the outcome be?

    Great news about your book. Best wishes for a successful launch.

  3. Great campaign! Stories are perceived by the reading brain as simulations of reality and they engage several cognitive levels, train them so to speak, which might otherwise only very rarely (if ever) be used in “civilized” urban life. So definitely, reading fiction helps keep intelligence high.

    Congrats to the book release! Love that card — and happy birthday! 😉

    • Thanks… yeah, it’s a cute card.

      Surprisingly, there are some that think literacy is overrated, and that reading doesn’t lead to an increase in intelligence. All I can say is, they’re not reading enough if that’s their conclusion, or, perhaps more accurately, they don’t love to read. There’s a peer reviewed scientific paper showing that reading increases abstract reasoning, which is pretty obvious for most of us 🙂

  4. I hope people will all give “Monsters” a read. Peter gave me the opportunity to read this book prior to release and it is great. I would even say this is Pete’s best work topping “Anomaly” which I considered an A- when I read it.

    I also thing the National Year for Reading is a great program!

    • Thanks for the support… books are funny old things. Contrary to popular opinion, books sales don’t determine the success or failure of a book, they can be indicative of it, but the real success lies with readers enjoying the contents and being inspired to consider a fresh perspective. Rather than exploding out of the gate, like horses in a race, books tend to amble along at an idle pace. It’ll take a few months before the verdict is in, but I think it’s a fun read 🙂

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