Words || JCS
‘A person who won’t read has no advantage over a person who can’t read.’ – Mark Twain.
As an angsty teen I found comfort in books such as The Bell Jar, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and even the entire back catalogue of Michel Houellebecq books, which are invariably about old men who are disappointed with modern Western existence (and is admittedly, an acquired taste). The anger and loneliness these writers portray echoed my adolescent angst. Then my younger years were gone, and I found myself in my early twenties wondering if I was legitimately anxious and depressed or just riding out the tail-end of adolescence.
Thankfully it passed, and I soon found myself reading different authors, feeling more excited and energised by what I read than being cloaked by the miasma of sadness in some of my earlier reading.
Whatever it is you as a reader seek in a novel, there are some proven benefits that are reading’s little secrets. Here’s some of the best.
Modern Western civilisation is sick with stress. Technology demands that we live faster, more furious lives than ever, often at the expense of our mindfulness.
2. Readers Live Many Lives
Here’s a nifty quote from dragon lord George R. R. Martin: ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . the man who never reads only lives once.’
3. Reading is Meditation
A while ago, acclaimed author Ceridwen Dovey wrote an encouraging article in the New Yorker confirming what we have long-suspected: reading turns you into a bookworm monk, promoting inner calm and focus, much of what people seek from meditation.
This point may seem banal but research has proven that reading is a splendid enhancer of empathy and therefore, compassion. Entering into the minds of others, seeing different perspectives, learning about cultures and other places in the world or periods of time or gender perceptions, all contribute to a greater understanding of our fellow homo sapiens. Blessed.
5. Reading can make you feel less depressed
One UK study concluded that readers are 21 per cent less likely to feel depressed. So, rejoice, happy book lovers! The future is bright and sunny.
Whether you read to open your mind, meet new friends, sleep better at night, or simply because you can’t imagine life without books, the process of reading obviously has immense benefits to personal happiness and wellbeing, not to mention world peace.