Kelly Corrigan on Why Reading Is the Key to Personal and Occupational Success

Our friend Kelly Corrigan, the bestselling author of The Middle Place and Lift and the forthcoming Glitter and Glue, gave a thought-provoking talk as part of the recent TEDxSonomaCounty conference.

Her TEDx message: “Read More. Read personal narrative, read poetry, read op-ed, read Doris Kearns Goodwin and Louisa May Alcott and Captain Underpants.”

At a time when the teaching of humanities at colleges is suffering; when we may be witnessing The Decline and Fall of the English Major and a general lessening of perceived importance for reading, writing and vocabulary skills among college graduates, Corrigan argues the opposite: That reading is at the core of our personal and occupational success.

According to Corrigan, reading is the foundation for our vocabulary, which in turn influences how we communicate and how we are perceived, both professionally and personally. That opens the door to occupational success, intellectual development and perhaps most importantly, personal connection. “Having a strong vocabulary allows you to do the thing that fifty-plus years of social science tells us is the key to well-being: Make meaningful connection to others,” she said in her speech.

“Our job is to go out there and help our families and our spouses and ourselves and our workplaces and our communities read more so that we may be able achieve and evaluate to think and connect so that we might keep building the bridge that E.M Forster said is so essential, the one between the prose in us and the passion. Without it, he said, we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts.”

In addition to writing The Middle Place and Lift, Kelly is also the co-founder of Notes and Words benefit for Childrens’ Hospital and Research Center Oakland. Glitter and Glue, a memoir about Kelly’s mother, will be published in February, 2014.

* From Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster, chapter 22:
“She might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings. The roads of his soul lie clear, and he and his friends shall find easy-going.”



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