I was talking to a girl I work with recently about reading as a pastime. We had been discussing our plans for the weekend, and they couldn’t have been more different. She was planning on filling her Saturday evening with television, while I had every intention of going home and finishing my book. When I told her that I would be ignoring the television all night, and giving my attention over to a book, she was perplexed. She told me, as so many others have before her, that reading was something that never really appealed to her. Paper just didn’t hold the same appeal as a T.V. to her.
She definitely hasn’t been the only person to tell me this. I have met so many people who tell me the exact same thing. They rhyme off the same reasons, time and time again:
‘I can never find a book I like.’
‘There’s too many good shows on T.V. tonight, I can’t miss X!’
‘I just don’t have the patience for reading.’
‘Reading takes up too much time. I’m far too busy for it.’
It will never cease to amaze me how people can believe that there isn’t a single book in this world that they would like. There are enough pieces of literature in this world that everyone could find at least one book they would enjoy. You just need to do some research, ask your family, friends or the staff in your local bookstore for recommendations. Take inspiration from your favourite films or shows. Look up the ‘100 books to read before you die’ lists. There are books out there for everyone. You just need to find them.
I can’t stress enough how important I think reading is. I would encourage every parent to grow in their children a love of reading. I read somewhere once that reading to your child can strengthen your bond with them, even if they don’t remember being read to. I would tell anyone who didn’t have a love of it put into them at a young age to go out and find it. Find it, because it is one of the most valuable hobbies you can have. I don’t just see reading as a way of passing the time on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or to unwind at the end of the day before going to sleep.
Reading encourages you to spend time by yourself; I don’t think it’s healthy to spend every waking moment of your life in contact with people. To be comfortable sitting by yourself, to have such a strong feeling of independence and peace in being alone, can be hard to do in today’s technology driven world. Too many people are reluctant to switch off from the world. They fear missing something, or having people looking at them and wondering why they are alone. I’ll admit I am rarely without my phone. I can put my hand on it at almost any time, and sometimes it’s hard to set it down and stop browsing social media. But reading can help. It’s easier to sit alone for an hour or so when you have a book on hand. If you find a book you love enough, escaping reality becomes the easiest thing in the world. Every time I open a book, I remain aware of the real world around me for several pages. But then I slip into a reader state – the real world around me becomes dulls, and fades into the background. It becomes white noise, while the world of the book I’m reading becomes reality for a brief time.
Reading books can teach you without you even realising you’re being taught. It develops your vocabulary, helps you become analytical, and it promotes better writing skills. It gives you abilities that are useful in any subject, any career path. It encourages people to think, and helps your creative side grow. It increases your attention span – a skill that is incredibly useful if you study word-heavy subjects. And it is one of the best stress relievers that I know of.
So, if you are someone who believes reading is a pastime you wouldn’t enjoy, I would tell you to try again. Turn off the television, laptop or phone, and pick up a book. Even you only read two pages a night before going to sleep, it is better than neglecting to pick up a book at all. And you never know, that one good book could spark in you a love of reading that you always said you would never have.