This was meant to be posted yesterday! Once again I’ve missed my own schedule. In fact, I almost thought about giving it a miss today, but where on earth could that slippery slope end? Today, skipping deadlines, tomorrow, scrapping showers. So here. Another slice of my nogin.
In case it isn’t clear from my past posts, I care quite a lot about literature. Clichéd as it sounds, reading is a complete addiction for me (seriously, over the past few days I’ve worried about its effects on my health, especially my eyesight). I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have at least one book on-the-go, and while many would argue this is a waste of my time, it’s probably one of the few things I do which I absolutely have no qualms in continuing.
We all know that reading generally has a positive effect on intelligence (my BSc grad partner would definitely dispute the validity of these studies, though). But what’s possibly more wonderful about reading is its effect on our – mental – health. Until literally a few minutes ago, I had no idea that bibliotherapy is a real thing (http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/can-reading-make-you-happier) but now I think about it, it’s such an obviously brilliant idea!
But why? again I ask. Why does reading make us feel good? Well, I can think of at least three reasons at the moment:
- It’s a mental activity. Even the most seasoned readers, I imagine, wouldn’t deny that reading makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something – especially more difficult texts (case in point, Don Quixote is currently giving me a severe but weirdly satisfying lesson in stamina).
- It distracts us from the iffier parts of life. Had a bad day at work? Argued with a friend? Pick up a book for a while and cool off whilst having a stream of entirely fictional scenes play through your head. If watching T.V. can fix the problem, why can’t reading?
- Finally, and maybe most crucially, is the fact that reading can remind us that we are not alone. This last point seems slightly contradictory to the second, where we’re trying to get away from others. But some of the most profound moments of my life (albeit there haven’t been many) have come when in just one paragraph, even one sentence, a writer manages to perfectly encapsulate a notion that’s nestled in my own mind. Suddenly, what seemed an abnormality in me, something not to be trusted to others, is actually shared. It’s… beyond words, like the glimmer of a lighthouse must be to stranded sailors.
To me, reading is like watching a really great drama, except you’re given access to all the thoughts of the actors, all the crazy concepts behind their actions; all the beautifully complex emotions are laid out in front of you in a way that could never be done by show. Who wouldn’t want that?
These are just some of the reasons I taught English, just some of the reasons I’m fighting for libraries. I wouldn’t give up books for the world, because they already give me one.