By mere virtue of the fact that I have a blog devoted to books makes it obvious how strongly I feel about reading.
Books make for a bomb diggity, far more phenomenal life. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a life without any semblance of reading would be one that is missing out in significant ways.
Here is how reading makes your life richer, more satisfying, happier, healthier, and way better all-around.
Reading adds a whole additional layer to your daily experience and life.
Rising from bed, eating breakfast, getting ready, heading off to work, engaging in your job, socializing with colleagues, commuting home, going to the gym, cooking and eating meals, scrolling through your phone.
Within all of this, having a book you are reading, be it fiction or nonfiction, contributes a whole additional thought process to your life and day. It offers you a different world or story for diving into, apart from the one you are occupying. And, reading merely adds on to the knowledge and insights you already have.
It’s like, where a life without any reading or books might be one lived using a limited palette of paints, one which is created and built upon with reading is a life lived whilst using hundreds of additional colors and shades in the painting of one’s life.
Reading can invite you into a new sense of empathy, a semblance of understanding others whom you might not have prior, and into alternate experiences- which you might never have come close to experiencing otherwise.
Through reading, we are able to touch on ways of living and being, to which we might never have otherwise drawn close or even known of.
Such as, in Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, we are able to occupy the mind and experience of a young boy growing up in a neglectful, impoverished family, his parents both drug addicts. And then conversely, we are able to enter the perception of his mother. The narration of the story, flipping between the two of them. This is an eye-opening, empathy inducing, fascinating thing. Being able to experience two perceptions which we might never otherwise have considered or touched upon.
Within books, we can experience different cultures, alternate points of view, novel ways of thinking, and people who are entirely unlike ourselves. All of this is a great, mind and eye-opening, heart-expanding thing.
Reading makes you smarter.
Really. People who read regularly have been shown to perform better on standardized tests. They also tend to have a higher and wider vocabulary. Reading expands your sense of what is possible in life, infuses you with new knowledge, and gives you a plethora of further ideas (if approaching your reading with openness, an interest in learning, and curiosity).
Reading offers one a source of entertainment and engagement.
Forget the mindless, waste-of-time smartphone scrolling, which ultimately offers you nothing. Pick up a book. You get so much more out of it.
It’s portable, as well as either cheap or even free (think libraries).
And, reading invites one to easily dive into an alternate universe or subject matter in the midst of one’s daily (and likely, routine) life.
See here for a list of all-time favorite fiction. The books that have stayed with me, many of which, for years. Long past my concluding and closing their covers.
Books, can and do, change you.
If one is, again, open and curious while reading (instead of closed off, opinionated, or judgmental. Because you don’t read books when you already “know it all.” You read to continue learning new things), books can change both you and your life in wild and wondrous ways.
Reading can alter the ways you consider and approach love (as it did for me, in How to Be an Adult in Relationships, as well as in The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm). It can change how you consider romantic relationships, what they might look like, or the different trajectories they might take ( Just Kids by Patti Smith turned this on its head for me, what the concept of love and soul mates actually means. As well as Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs, both by Esther Perel. Each of which were mind-changing).
Books can alter what you know about health and nutrition and thus, improve your well-being by leaps and bounds ( Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, Why We Get Fat and What to do About It by Gary Taubes, and Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson all did this for me).
Books can heal and inspire growth regarding your emotional health (7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi, Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss, and Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud each offered life-changing insights, which I have since applied to my own living and thinking).
Books can also improve your skills and increase general life knowledge, making you a more well rounded, better-educated person (a few in this realm I quite enjoyed: The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass, Where to Draw the Line by Anne Katherine- a book about healthy boundaries, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson).
You get the idea. Books change us, in both minor and major ways.
Books offer a sense of connectedness.
They can gift us with the emotional experience of “oh wow, me too.” A sense of comfort that we are not alone, within a personal experience or in just who we are as individuals.
If one is willing to search it out, they will find themselves in certain books, in one way or another. And, even in books you don’t specifically find yourself or have that “me too” moment, still, quite often we can relate or empathize. Having felt (at one point or another) similar things ourselves to what the author or character might be expressing or getting at.
(Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman is one of these stories. I am not a man, which is the perception through which the book is narrated. The story is about a man exploring his sexuality and the fluidity of love we might feel for different people. However, I could most certainly connect to pieces of his emotional experience, as well as, found it moving and interesting to read).
Books offer the reader new ways of thinking and being, which they may not have considered or even heard of prior.
A smattering of books which have done this for me:
- Fearless Writing by William Kenower
- Many Love: a Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love by Sophie Lucido Johnson
- The Soulmate Experience: a Practical Guide for Creating Extraordinary Relationships by Mali Apple
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- Sugar Blues by William Duffy
- Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure Television by Jennifer Pozner
- Zoo Story by Thomas French (this one shell shocked and captivated me, with regards to the inside look it offered on zoos. The animal’s personal experiences, as well as the controversial ethics of zoos).
You get the idea. I could continue on.
Books can change our ways of thinking. And as a result, alter our relationships, health, mindsets, even our entire path in the process.
And isn’t that, after all, why we read? Or at least, it should be. Other than for entertainment and joy, for growth, evolution, and learning?
Books can help with healing.
For those who have been heartbroken, hurt, left, abused, medically injured, sick, or who have lost someone they loved. Within books, one can find a sense of connectedness, support, and understanding. We can access different ideas for and ways of dealing with, as well as can receive assistance with getting through these experiences via the guidance and insight of others.
A few books that have offered such to me:
- The Friendship Factor: How to Get Closer to the People You Care For by Alan Loy McGinnis
-Attached: the New Science of Adult Attachment, and How it Can Help Cou Find-and Keep Love by Amir Levine
-Changes that Heal: The Four Shifts That Can Make Everything Better by Dr. Henry Cloud
-The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
Books create a sense of community, build bridges, and open new doors between people.
Think book clubs, reading in school, blogs about books, recommendations from friends on reads that changed their lives or perspectives. Books bring people together.
A life laden with books and reading is one of far more significant depth.
It’s a life of continued learning and garnered knowledge.
It is a life of perpetual growth and curiosity.
One rife with additional joy, engagement, and entertainment.
Books change lives. Books better us.
They teach us both how to be, and how to live.
Reading makes your life richer, in poignant and powerful ways.
Originally published at http://brunchesandbooks.com on March 6, 2019.