Aotearoa's first Reading Ambassador: 'I’m somewhere else when I read'

Ben Brown came to reading relatively late, but Aotearoa’s first Reading Ambassador is keen to encourage others to give reading a go.

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Jack Tame went to Lyttelton to meet Ben Brown, Aotearoa’s first Reading Ambassador. Source: Q+A

Ben Brown told Q+A stories lie at the heart of everything.

"How do we remember people close to us? You know we talk about them, we talk about them in stories. When we think about our own lives and how we go about things we tend to think of them as stories. We don’t just connect together a whole bunch of events and that was my day. Stories are puzzles and conundrums and enigmas."

Ben has always written "ever since I can remember", carrying a notebook around to record his poetry. But he told Jack Tame, he wasn’t initially a reader.

"I didn’t actually come to reading until relatively late. Because I grew up in the Motueka Valley on a farm by a river, it was a beautiful place. I had heaps to do and reading just to me seemed to be time consuming, when I could be doing other things."

Ben Brown, Aotearoa's first Reading Ambassador. Source: 1 NEWS

But his dad was a veracious reader and hounded him to read Tom Sawyer.

"Ragged on me for days and days." And when he finally heeded the call: "I loved it. I loved it because it was about a boy and his mate that lived on a river and bunked off school and avoided work as much as they could, and went sailing down the way on the raft — and that was me and my mate in the Motueka Valley in 1972."

Reflecting your experiences or introducing you to new worlds and ways of thinking, the power of reading is immense.

"I’m somewhere else when I read. The more I can get into a good read, the further and further away everything else becomes and I’m just kinda there, with my words, building a picture in my head."

You can watch the full interview in the video above.