Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Literature as a medicine for our stagnation

Books on the power-line by Katja Ullrich (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

One may ask why reading as a past-time is still essential now.

As a society, we don’t question the importance of reading as a tool of personal development, of building a view of the world and understanding of science, culture and ethics. But gradually reading is becoming just an educational tool for young people and it seems to be dispensable for the well-being of adults.

There is a concept of ’reading for pleasure’, which I particularly dislike. With the onset of digital revolution and the blossom of all forms of entertainment, reading seems to have lost its dominant role as a form of media. But how does it affect us?

An average person nowadays is constantly and increasingly bombarded with information, and after a hard day’s work all we need is to relax and watch a show that would entertain our old brain: anything to deal with food, sex or danger (violence/politics).

Most of the readership prefers lighter reads, romance or thrillers, and literary fiction is considered boring and only  suitable for intellectuals. Our attention span is short: a three minute video on YouTube or a ten seconds  read per post on Facebook or split second flips through Instagram shots (that sometimes last for hours) would do. We are flipping through our lives, often unable to stop and ponder over important things.

Are we losing the ability to process information in a thorough way outside our jobs? I think we do. We don’t like challenging reading, our brain resists it; we are trained to react quickly to small and easily digestible bits of information. This robs us of richness of the literary world, of the world itself.

Biggest minds of the mankind spent months and sometimes years to complete their pieces of work. And thanks to digital technologies, we can now instantly access this distilled thought of writers from many countries and nurture our own thinking process. We can evolve our minds and imagination, create bolder things, achieve more in life and bring up a better, smarter next generation.

I love meeting with readers and writers, with people who adore words, to whom books are often like friends. I spot voracious readers easily: their lexicon easily exceeds a thousand words, they are often erudites, so you never run out of conversation topics with them.

Another important aspect of reading is understanding other cultures. We often get stereotypical judgements from the news about various countries and mentalities. Reading books by foreign authors allows you to see the culture as it is, rather than receive one-sided and superficial projections as in TV reports.

RusLitGuide-RyzhakovAnd I’m happy that I myself contributed to bridging cultures with publishing my guide on modern Russian literature. Yes, it is finally out on Kindle and in print.

Russia has a troubling image in the news, but the country is not defined by the Kremlin only, it stretches across 17 million square kilometers of land and comprises of hundreds of nations. I hope more readers will now discover modern Russian authors and learn about Russia from insiders and Russia’s greatest minds.

If you have read the guide already and found it useful, please recommend it to other readers and leave a review of it on Amazon or Goodreads. Spread the word about literature, Russian or any other.

Because, reading is fundamental.


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