On Reading Every Day

woman reading in the evening in darkly lit room painting

Reading, not because we have to, but because we want to, is one of life’s pleasures.

Maybe you’ve noticed this too: people who read often live more deeply and are nicer to be with than those who quit reading after finishing school. Nihilistics excluded.

There are more things out there for us to read than there have ever been—books, ebooks, blog posts, articles, social media content, the list goes on.

But at the same time, reading isn’t the easiest thing to do. Not when social media, Netflix, or video games are only a device away. Not when we can do 999 other things instead.

Many activities look more fun than reading, especially when reading stops being a habit. Reading happens in our mind, not on a screen. It requires concentration, energy, patience.

For many of us, reading starts as something we are told to do at school.

It’s closely associated with the effort of assimilating information that comes with education.

Back in my school days, I hardly read anything.

It was more fun to play video games, watch sports, or play football with my friends.

The books they gave us to read at school weren’t fun. Or maybe it was the way they were presented and how we had to dissect them that took the magic out of them.

In my case, discovering the joy of reading was a personal journey that only began after distancing myself from public education.

My days now would be sadder without reading—I would feel not reading as a bothering physical sensation, a pebble in my shoe. Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but not much.

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.

Charles Baudelaire

As adults, many of us say we don’t have time to read—we got so many other things to do.

But reading is not something we need a lot of time for.

Often, we don’t even need to set aside time for reading.

We can read in between other activities: while waiting, while resting or relaxing, while preparing to go to sleep.

Most of us have a sense that reading is good for us—for our minds, as a way to relax, to acquire knowledge.

One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.

Carl Sagan

And yet we often don’t read as much as we’d like, either because we don’t have time or because we’re not in the mood. When we’re not in the mood, it’s usually to do with low mental energy or simply not being able to focus.

Having a reading list can inspire us to read more and keep us motivated to explore books beyond our current reading taste.

An ebook reader makes reading on the go easier. It also makes read at night easier on the eyes thanks to the built-in light.

Being in a reading group can also be a good idea, and there are plenty online.

Reading as a daily habit can have a wonderful effect on us, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

I mean reading for pleasure, what we want, without having to for school or work.

Whether it’s a story, a nonfiction book, or a how-to article, reading will make us venture off the daily rut of our habits into the great world of written text.

Word after word, sentence after sentence, our world will gain more depth, the horizons of our thinking will broaden, and we’ll discover new experiences, new possibilities.

Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.

Jeanette Winterson

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How much do you get to read these days? Half an hour? More?

How Books Choose Us—Sometimes At Least

open book on table next to coffee cup and vase of flowers with a stack of books to the left, blurry and overexposed photo

We like to think that we choose the books we read. That we pick them from bestseller lists or grab them off the shelf based on friend’s recommendations. But is that really so?

I like to enter bookstores and glance at the bestsellers and new arrivals. I like also to look at the classics lining up the shelves in their quiet, stately way.

But often, I find myself leaving without buying any book.

It’s not that I wouldn’t want to read all the books in that shop—or all the books in the world for that matter. Rather, I find that the books I am supposed to read choose me.

Many books find us when we need to find them.

There are books that bring us comfort when we are sad. Books that help us forget we are sad. Books that make us sad only so that they can then make us happy.

Their Route to Us…

I don’t choose the books I read based on strict criteria. Sometimes, I choose them based on their description. Other times based on their title. Sometimes I pick them from a bestseller list. Other times they are given to me or recommended to me by friends.

And I think that’s great. It would be boring if I’d run all the books I come across through a filter before deciding whether to read them or not, right?

But even so, I feel that books reach me through their own route. For example, it happens to me sometimes to learn about a book but not feel any desire to read it, and I pass it on.

Later on, I come across it again, and then something about it makes me want to pick it up.

Books like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Frankenstein, Us, or Alice in Wonderland left me indifferent the first time I came across them.

But then in time, each one found its way to me, becoming personal favorites.

When it reaches you, a book doesn’t announce its presence loudly. It just blurs all the other books around you or in existence, making you aware only of it. And once you begin to read it, that book becomes the only book you can read—it’s as if all the others don’t even exist.

To reach us, books follow many paths…

The path of our subconscious, the path of our emotions, the path of our personal tragedies.

And sometimes, of course, these paths are more direct, and books reach us through our favorite movies or TV shows, or directly through our friends.

Pieces of Your Life Puzzle

In the end, I believe every book is in search of a home because every book is a piece of a person’s life puzzle. A piece of understanding.

Sometimes, a book needs years to reach you. But it waits unleafed in a dusty bookshelf, bearing patiently the taunts of the moths and of the ants until it finds you—until it finds a reader.

And then another piece of your life puzzle falls into place, and you feel more complete than you did before.

That’s the power of books.

15 Great Books That Can Change the Way You Live and Think

 

Next time you find yourself before a wall of books in a bookshop or library choose one of the titles on this list. You won’t regret it.  Continue reading “15 Great Books That Can Change the Way You Live and Think”