I am a reader. I love my books. My close friends and family are obviously aware of this – my husband jokes that I eat books for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But what is more heartening to see is that people who I have only interacted with a few times or are acquaintances also identify this trait with me.
The other day in an effort to beef up my CV I did a search on Google: “Soft skills to have in 2020” Different websites, various opinion leaders but the gist was the same – leadership, negotiation, adaptable etc. not a single article listed out reading as a good-skill to have. Over the years, reading has been pushed to the back, recommended either just before bed time or packaged and sold in the form of apps that encourage 1 book in 1 day! How can you compress Yuval Noah Harari’s masterpiece Sapiens in bullet points? It’s beyond my understanding!
I am one of the few people who advocate reading. I will be the odd aunt who brings Enid Blyton (or whatever is the equivalent for 21st century) for birthdays and special occasions. I will do this because I believe the world needs open-minded and compassionate people, and not just those who can juggle 12-hour work shifts and crack a deal every week. I strongly believe that reading helps to shape us up as better human beings. Here is how:
1. Makes You Smart
Only a stupid person would disagree. Reading any piece of literature – whether it is a course book, the newspaper or even a manual which came with the food processor guarantees learning some new information. Having said that, I’m sure a fiction novel is slightly more interesting than the workings of the kitchen appliances. These days you’ll find books on every topic under the sun. If you have an interest, there is a book!
Interested in gambling? Pick up Liar’s Poker to understand the science and art of bluffing your way through a game.
Drinking and partying more your thing? The Savory Cocktail Book will help you master the art of the perfect aperitif.
2. Instills Empathy
We could all do with a little bit of empathy and kindness from strangers and loved ones. Reading a wide variety of genres opens the mind to be perceptive of others feelings and point of view. This is true for both fiction and non-fiction. Every character in fiction is inspired by some one real, which is the reason we fall in love with fictional characters. Intolerance in the world can be fixed by encouraging reading about different religions and cultures.
3. Makes You Comfortable in Your Own Skin
I always make it a point to carry a book or the Kindle in my bag every time I step out of the house.
What is a better companion for a quiet weekday lunch – your paperback! Date is late? No need to fidget and aimlessly scroll through the smartphone – just whip out that book (imagine what a great first impression you’ll be setting)
Have an hour to kill before that movie? Spot a bookshop. Enter. Notice how the next 60 minutes slip away in seconds.
4. Gets The Creative Juices Flowing
For children fairytales are a way to enter a world of imagination and limitless possibilities. The colourful and bold story books with eye-popping characters and whacky stories grab their attention and fuel creativity.
As we grow old, our reading interests change in-line with our cognitive development. Colours may not necessarily interest us. We may seek the thrill of a mystery novel or prefer to explore the world of nutrition and diet – whatever may be your thing there is no denying that books fuel our creativity. They surprise us and make us THINK and every once in a while throw-in countless possibilities with a WHAT IF?
5. Prepares You For Life
Every hurdle, feeling, emotion, situation, hardship, joy, disappointment you have felt or will feel at some point of time – someone, somewhere has felt it too and 99.9% of the time written about it. Reading, in a way, prepares you for any hardships that may come to you. I have read many books where the protagonist is a character that closely resonates with me. It allows me to think – how would I behave in a particular situation? What is the right way to go about it?
My daily life is too monotonous and reading offers a respite to escape into another world. Those who are lucky to live a new life every few days and meet new people are better off than readers – because what’s better than to read about it? It’s to experience it.