Van Dyck Law - Q2 2020

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QUARTER 2 2020

FROM JANE AUSTEN TO MALCOLM GLADWELL The Benefits of Reading Widely

A lot of people who love to read have a favorite book or a favorite author. I don’t, though. I’ve been a voracious reader since my high school English teachers made us read all the American classics. I would pick out one of the authors we read during the school year, and then during the summer, I would read as many of their other books as possible. To this day, that’s still how I read — one author and several of their books at a time. I started reading that way the summer after I read “Pride and Prejudice” in class. I read Jane Austen’s books all summer long and loved every minute of it. The next summer, I read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s body of work. During the course of that season, I discovered that “The Great Gatsby” was actually my least favorite book of his. Even though it’s sometimes hailed as one of the greatest American novels of all time, I still liked Fitzgerald’s other stuff better. I never would have found that out if I had stuck to my English class syllabus. I also never would have found out that although I dislike most of Ernest Hemingway’s books (I think his prose is too terse), I actually really liked “The Sun Also Rises” — mostly because he wrote it differently than all his other books, and it sounds more like something Fitzgerald would have written. I don’t mean to sound like all I read are the American classics. I’m not some literary elitist. I’ve also spent entire summers tearing through Agatha Christie mystery novels and the “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy. I love to read

all sorts of stories and genres. I spend a lot of time reading nonfiction books as well. I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books and Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat.” Brown’s book is the story of a rowing team from the University of Washington that competed in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany and took home the gold medal against all odds. It’s a particularly inspiring story I’m sure some of you have read. It had such an impact on our office that now if anyone is taking on a challenging task, I always say they’re taking the stroke oar (the hardest job on the rowing team). What we read impacts how we go about our daily lives, both consciously and subconsciously. That’s why it pays to read widely. Sometimes the people we interact with in real life will remind us of a character in a book we’ve read. That could

give you insight on how to interact with them. Sometimes I read books with the conscious intent of letting them affect how I act. I’ve read a few on how to get ego out of the workplace. Books give us different perspectives on familiar issues, some of which we’ll agree with and others we won’t. They make us think and question, and they let us travel to different worlds without leaving our homes. To this day, I keep anywhere from 2–4 books on my nightstand. They could be fiction or nonfiction. I might finish all of them, and I might finish none of them. Whatever the case, I look forward to how their narratives will play out in my life. -Fiona Van Dyck

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