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Reading can change your life

THE COMING OF the July summer vacation means the annual Hong Kong Book Fair is drawing near. The theme of the 30th anniversary of the fair is Sci-Fi and Mystery, with the tagline, Reading the World • When Fantasy Meets Reality. It will focus on promoting the best local science fiction and mystery books, including the work of Ni Kuang, Wong Yi, Eddy Lee, Leung For-hing, Joe Tsui and Chan Ho-kei. 
According to a press release from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, a record 1.04 million people visited last year’s Book Fair, spending an average of $810 per person, with book fans attending many different cultural events. 
In spite of this, Hong Kong is not exactly known for its book reading culture. What is the actual story and why is reading so important? Is there a different approach that can be taken to promote and deepen a culture of reading?
Last year, for its Reading Survey 2018, the Hong Kong Publishing Professionals Society (HKPPS) conducted a study into the reading habits of different age groups in Hong Kong. It found that 30 per cent of respondents had not read a single printed book in the past year, while 40 per cent of those who had not read a book claimed that they actually never read. Among those who do read, the average reading time is three hours weekly and two books monthly. The report found that the most popular genres are fiction, health and fitness, history, documentary, as well as current events. Fifty per cent of respondents read to acquire knowledge while 20 per cent read to relax. The rest seek enhance creativity and imagination, improve conversation skills or be more competitive at work or in exams.
A good reading habit is important because it is not simply a pastime, but also a path to knowledge. Through reading we can empower ourselves, understand society and the world better and, most important, discern right from wrong! 
Confucius once said, “People of ancient times learned for their own sake. People nowadays learn for the sake of others.” (Book XIV Hsien Wen, Confucian Analects). Reading can empower and shape your life, in other words, reading can make you a better person.
The parish of the Church of the Nativity in the United States, spent seven weeks during Lent reading one book: Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? 
The parish priest chose one of the six themes of the book every week to match the related readings, and people would view the 15- to 20-minute videos in their weekly gatherings followed by discussion and prayer. They also read a specific chapter every day and shared thoughts and ideas. An all-round parish a reading culture, including homilies, group gathering and self-reading for can definitely change lives . Perhaps  Diocese of Hong Kong can follow suit to achieve the same goal.
There are many different types of publications in our local Church, and some people even form study groups for sharing and religious book reviews can be easily found on different websites, in newspapers or magazines, all of which combine to nurture a reading culture. 
Through reading, we seek to renew ourselves and journey closer to Jesus Christ and become more like him. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mind set as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). 
If there is knowledge without a change of life, no love for God or the people in your life, the reading means nothing! SE