This might sound like an odd statement, one which should see me reported to the financial ombudsman, but bear with me.
My role as the Project Accountant for unionlearn requires me to be precise with numbers, to monitor expenditure and to calculate forecasts. It also calls for me to write reports, to explain these numbers to people and to be able to interpret and analyse patterns of expenditure. I have to present at meetings, negotiate budget reductions, explain contract compliance and liaise with auditors. All of the latter have one thing in common: words. Without language, and the ability to articulate, the numbers alone would be meaningless.
I have always loved reading, stepping into a story and going wherever the author takes me. A good novel is a break from the everyday, a chance to experience something completely different, to see the world through another person’s eyes and have my preconceptions challenged. Reading a novel expands my vocabulary, sharpens my analytical skills and hones my concentration.
Reading can take me anywhere, from nineteenth-century London, following as a woman makes her way down grimy, gas-lit streets, to the passenger seat of a car being driven by an alien along Scottish motorways or to an adrift rowing boat containing a boy and a tiger. I can learn about places I have never been and eras I can never visit, spending time in someone else’s imagination, all the while shaping my understanding of how other people see the world.
It doesn’t have to be fiction, though; reading around any subject will illuminate it and bring it to life. It seems like an obvious point to make, but reading and learning go hand in hand, and written words, whether in a magazine, or on a blog, convey ideas, encourage thinking and further learning.
As much as I love a good novel, I also can’t get enough of true crime books, the more lurid and gruesome the better. But while I am reading about yet another awful murder, I’m also learning about the context in which it happened, about society at the time and about the psychology behind the criminal act. Although this passion hasn’t taught me enough to enable me to become a forensic scientist (secret dream job), and on the face of it a working knowledge of famous crime doesn’t help me be a better accountant or a more well-rounded person, being motivated to read, and therefore to learn about something, does.
Whatever you read, whatever the genre or era that interests you, whether it is a classic novel or a news article, simply the act of reading the words, of taking in someone else’s point of view, widening your vocabulary or considering another culture, makes us all better at whatever it is we do.