Like a magic carpet a book would spirit me away—away from the pain and relentless fear of the bully.
A quiet desk in the school library or behind a shady gum in a deserted corner of the school yard and a book were my refuge, my private place, my safe place.
Without books I honestly don’t think I would have survived.
So when I am asked why we read my instant response is escape, but the reasons we read whether consciously or unconsciously are far more complicated than a one word answer.
As a bit of an outcast I found companionship in books. Friends. Friends having adventures, experiencing joys and facing trials and reaching goals in their lives. But book also opened up another world for me. The world of readers, book lovers like me. To find this circle of friends all you need to do to be recognized as kin is to open up your latest books and start reading. Someone will ask you about it, will have read it or desire to read it. Ice shattered.
All the time I was hiding in my books I never gave a thought to the other benefits I might be getting from the activity. I was unconsciously making me a better person, developing my ability to empathize with others, with experiences I had never been subject to. I was finding out who I was in relation to the world and the characters in the books. I could experience things, dangerous, exciting or stupid without having to suffer the consequences.
Books are a delightful important form of communication. Reading helps us develop language. Languages to explore and explain the world around us – books expand our language and our ability to interpret and understand different places and people.
History talks to us through books bringing a clearer perception of how things were and what shaped us as a society. We come to understand the other through books. Culture, race, language, grief and pain or joy and knowledge.
We fashion meaning for ourselves when we are touched by the attempts of others to find meaning in life. Our meaning is richer, our struggles more in depth and our answers clearer for having measured our attempts against others.
Our inner conversations are also deepened and enriched by our contact with books. Imagination is unleashed and what we read shows us that we are not weird – not against the weirdness that others have written. New lands and creatures in a fantasy trilogy, science fiction way beyond our current time or urban fantasy, angels and demons, witches and vampires. Even some of the biographies and auto biographies send our minds wondering about the weirdness of the subject and some of the things they did.
But the gift from reading is not all about the intangible. Reading expands you language, vocabulary, understanding of words, spelling and grammar. This will be reflected in what you write or speak. You will be able to express yourself more succinctly about more subjects and with a deeper understanding. Your audience will also be able to better grasp your ideas and appreciate your knowledge.
Not only does reading do all this but it also sharpens your focus increases your attention span, improves your smarts.
Exposure to many stories helps you formulate who you are, who you want to be and how you might get there. A deeper understanding of what it is to be different and that that is okay. Books show you the way to a more fulfilled life a more social life.
On a social level having read books, fiction, nonfiction auto biographies, and memoirs of historical, self help builds social confidence. An ability and a readiness to partake in conversations.
Pick a book, any book or several books and reward, absorb and formulate an opinion – Oh what a conversation starter or filler. You won’t feel out of your depth.
The joy is there all you have to do is open a book–any book, any time, any place.