Even More Reasons to Become an
There are many obvious and often discussed benefits derived from being an avid reader, some of the most most well known being that it expands vocabulary, increases one’s ability to communicate clearly, and creates a more competent writer, as well as a deeper thinker. These are all estimable reasons in themselves to become an ardent reader, and to foster a love of reading in our children, but some of the most significant and beneficial reasons to read, read, and read some more, are quite often left undiscussed.
Reading increases your capacity for empathy:
When a person reads, she experiences the trials and tribulations of the characters involved. She experiences their perspectives, peeks into their unique way of interpreting events, and understands their reasons for making the decisions they do. Some of these characters, possibly most, will come from entirely different walks of life than the reader. They might have lived across oceans, or belonged to different cultures or time periods, or have lived through dramatic periods of the history of their countries. They might be of a minority culture (or a minority culture different from the reader’s) and have daily experiences that the reader could never have fathomed before entering their world, their mind, and their consciousness through a book. Reading carves us deeper and allows us to understand the thoughts, actions, experiences, and intentions of others in ways we could never achieve without the experience of literature. It allows us to “step into another’s shoes” and see life through his eyes. There are few, if any, other experiences that allow us that kind of portal into another’s world, and it is that very portal that expands, deepens, and nurtures our capacity for empathy.
Reading offers perspective:
It often happens that after we read a story in the news or watch a documentary about an event in world history, we think, “Wow, that really makes me realize most of my troubles are minuscule.” Reading literature also offers this experience of perspective. Whether you are reading a tragic story or an inspiring one, reading offers you the opportunity to step outside of yourself. It makes us see that there is a world out there, and there are issues far larger than our own, and it humbles us. As a culture, and an age, we are becoming increasingly self obsessed, and the transcendent experience of reading is an antidote to narcissism.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
―Charles William Elliot
Reading offers inspiration:
On the other side of the spectrum, someone who is living in dire circumstances or who experiences challenges on a daily basis has access to the private thoughts and accounts of endless heroic, resilient, and above all, tremendously inspiring characters throughout the history of literature. Characters that have endured hardships unfathomable, and yet somehow found internal resources of strength and integrity. Some may be historic figures, others might be fictional representations created to express the struggles of an entire group of people in a more intimate way. Either way, there are characters out there, both historic and fictional, that have the power to change you forever, to imbue you with a strength and hope that could have taken years to acquire, and once befriended, they stay with you forever.
Reading brings inner calm:
Reading, simply put, is extremely calming. Some people experience a feeling of complete relaxation when they read. There is a comfort truly unique that can’t be replicated even by other very rewarding experiences. In a time when so many people’s lives are rushed and over scheduled, the peace of reading can be medicinal.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis