An investment in education

For a while now I struggled with my reading practice from screens. I’ve found myself reading shorter and shorter stories, texts, paragraphs, sentences. But I believe to have maintained my ability to know trouble when I see it coming for me.

So I took my chances and went to a bookstore I’ve been visiting unsuccessfully twice already. Not too many bookstores with books in English language here in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. And for sure I am a very picky reader. This time I came out victoriously, with the first volume of A Song Of Ice And Fire, A Game Of Thrones.

I wasn’t aware of how many words I didn’t know. But I shouldn’t worry, because I’m reading for volume. Extensive reading, as psycholinguist Stephen Krashen recommended it for improving ones command of a language. Nevertheless I found myself the Collins English Dictionary on the app store, for € 6,99 as a one time payment. What a great find! Here’s to the old days where you could buy a dictionary and own it, rather than having to pay a subscription to be allowed to keep it on your shelves. Another victory.

It took a couple of hundred pages – but reading was pleasant – for my ability to imagine and to picture scenes to start to come back. I noticed, quite surprised. It’s not as vivid yet as I recall from my childhood, decades past, but scenes started to come alive, and some of the character’s features started to take form in my imagination, and the book’s text started to disappear. It’s getting better with every day, with every page and every chapter. In turn, I haven’t opened the Netflix app in a fortnight, and my Youtube Screen Time on my iPhone plummeted down to a measly 7 minutes per day.

When I was two thirds into the book I went back to the bookstore for more. The shelves had been rearranged. I gasped. I hurried trough the foreign language section. Eyes left, right, almost frantically. At last a sigh of relief. However, A Clash Of Kings had dirt marks on all sides of the textblock (the top-edge, bottom-edge, and fore-edge) from having been pushed around on the shelves. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground”, Queen Cersei said to Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Hand of the King. I spotted a whole, unopened box with the complete series on the top of a shelf, and decided to buy it, even though I already owned the first volume. Let’s see what adventures their adventures will hold for me, let’s see through those thousand lives.