Pen & Globe

License to Read

Place: Adana Şakirpaşa Airport |

Drink: Turkish coffee |

Sitting in the Adana Şakirpaşa Airport (pronounced “Shocker Pasha,” yet far less glamorous than it sounds) I’m feeling a little like a rock star on tour – minus the groupies, cash, and hair, of course.  I’m wrapping up a whirlwind work stint that had me in Copenhagen on Saturday (for a series of fascinating meetings on Syrian opposition community policing), Istanbul on Sunday, Ankara on Monday, and Adana very early this morning, before heading back to Istanbul late tonight.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”  

  — Stephen King

Any notion of stardom evaporated, though, when informed of a 4-hour flight delay, which left me feeling only irritated, hungry, and wiped out.  A jolt of Turkish coffee (just called “coffee” here) and an Adana kebab (when in Adana) are starting to take the edge off my creature comfort needs, while something I remember Stephen King writing just swung my mood around.  “Books are a uniquely portable magic,” King notes in his non-fiction bestseller On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft.

Whether you like him or not, King is giving all of us writers – from aspiring to inspiring – an amazing gift here: the license to read.  “Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life,” King adds in this illuminating book, arguing that to be a good writer, you must be a good reader – of great books, terrible ones, and everything in-between.  Bored?  Read.  Insomnia?  Read.  Waiting in the doctor’s office, a grocery store line, an overcrowded airport in Adana?  Read, King says, whenever you can, and never feel guilty about it, for reading with a critical eye helps make you a better writer.  And his career hasn’t exactly suffered, has it?

So, with a nod to this sage advice, I settle in for my long delay…and reach for a book!


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