A friend the other day made a comment to me that they don’t know how I find the time to read so much. That in the run of their week, they have so many other things to do and on their mind that sitting down with a book is not a priority. And they couldn’t understand how I could find the time to read on top of all the other things I have going on in my life, and the other hobbies that I explore as well. So, I told her, in the same way I am telling you, that I have made it a priority. It is a calming, relaxing and recharging hobby that I have made an important part of my life.
On any given week, I typically have an average of four books on the go. Some are in my bag and I read them while waiting in line or when I have some free time. Some are on my bedside table that I read as I go to sleep or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Some are in my office that I read when needing to wind down or focus on something. And some are in various places within my house depending on which room I am spending time in or where I was reading last. And then I also have some on standby at any given time when the four-ish books I am reading are not grabbing my attention.
And reading is so much more for me than just entertainment.
I read historical fiction to learn. Although I am someone who likes to learn new things, and know about things that have happened in the past, I don’t have the patience to watch history documentaries or focus strictly on learning about a significant event. So instead, I read stories. Stories that intertwine fictional characters amongst real events in ways that not only teach me about the event, but give me perspectives that could be realistic to the individuals who were living there at the time.
I read mystery and suspense to keep my mind active. I generally will avoid horror because I find my imagination is too strong and it will keep me up at night, but mystery/suspense is a softer version of that. It gets me thinking. It makes me consider the facts of the story to determine how it is going to end or to try and figure out the twists that may be involved. It keeps me sharp. It keeps me guessing. And it gives me a little bit of adrenaline to keep turning the pages.
I read dramas or “chick lit” for the entertainment value. When I am having a long week at work, or low on energy, I will pick up one of those to escape in. It gives me just enough intrigue to stay invested but not too much that it becomes stressful. These are the books I read to relax. To do exactly what reading is supposed to do. Distract you from your regular life.
I read true stories to remind myself the multi facets that come with our human existence. I love to read about people’s lives and see the ways in which they have handled or overcome challenges that are either specific to them, or common to the general population. I use these books to learn about people, and then use their experiences to shape the ways in which I view others and the impact that we may have on each other without even knowing it.
I read self improvement books to do exactly what they are meant to do. Although I do not explore this genre as much as I do with the other ones, it is something that I find myself doing more and more. I have done a lot of self-discovery over the last few years as I work through my own trauma and the things that have happened to me, and in some of those cases, those books have helped. They have helped me to consider things differently. They have helped me to learn new coping skills. And they have helped me realize that it is okay to turn to these books when I am not doing okay.
“This above all: To thine own self be true.”– William Shakespeare
I read young adult for the value. Although there are a lot of great books that were available to me as a youth, I am impressed by the increase in the level, and impactful writing, that has come out in recent years for our youth. I love to read those books for both my own enjoyment but to also remind myself that there are authors out there who are reaching our youth in ways that I can only hope fosters their own love of reading like it has mine.
And I read books that I have read before. Regardless of the genre, I have those books that I have read over and over and over again because I can’t get enough of the story, of the writing or of the characters. Some of them are drama. Some of them are fantasy. Some of them are mystery. But all of them are well-written and a regular reminder that there is comfort in a good book. Books that even though I know how they are going to end, I still want to read them again.
So, these reasons, and others I haven’t mentioned, is why I make reading a priority. I make it an important part of my life because it not only furthers my knowledge (and we know knowledge is power) but it also creates comfort in times where comfort may be needed. I have gotten lost in a book while sitting vigil by a hospital bed. I have cracked open that new cover as I drive in a car on my way home to a loved ones funeral. I have chilled with a book as I lay on the beach and listen to the waves. And I have snuggled up with a book when I feel depressed, or sick, or hurt.
Books have power. And I know it sounds cliché but for me it is true. Books, and reading, give me the power to explore what it is I can’t do. What it is I want to do. And everything in between.