Like a lot of us, I’ve had my turn having a break from reading, and told myself I didn’t have time because I was too busy and stressed over work and school, so reading would have just been another ball in my juggling act. But once I ended my break, or the drought as I like to call it, and got back into the rhythm of reading before bed every night, I realized for the first time that this was some sort of medicine for my entire body, and revitalized me after being so consumed by stress and angst, and really clicked a switch for me, life was going to be okay. My mum has always been one of those Mums who’s on our backs about reading, saying that it’ll make us better people overall, and now that I’m older, I think she’s absolutely spot-on.
Unlike myself, my mum is into all the deep and heavy reads, you know, the ones that stick with you and really make you think about life and purpose and all of that emotionally overwhelming stuff, but that’s what floats her boat. So she’ll often finish her book and give me the run down on the tough lives that actual people out there are living, and how they manage to stay afloat and more often than not become stronger from their adversities.
Without really realizing it, when we read we’re doing something crazy to our brains, feeding our emotions, insights, empathy, strength, and compassion just by taking in and absorbing someone else walks of life, however similar or different they are to our own. I used to think that you only learned something from non-fiction scientific books, but the reality is, any genre is opening our conscious to experience life through someone else’s eyes, to see how they think and act, what obstacles are thrown their way, the relationships they have, their goals and ambitions, worries and concerns. It allows us to become someone completely different for a short while, put on their shoes and live their lives, and often we bring these experiences back into our own lives and become stronger people with the tools and insights we’ve come to know along the way.
We all go through stages thinking that our lives are the worst and “no one’s got it quite as bad as me” but that narrow thinking is really challenged when we read stories, and we come to appreciate our fruitful and down-right rich lives that we unintentionally take for granted. We’re able to grow empathy for those out their who are literally fighting for their lives, facing their own wars in their life that are unfathomable from our end of the pages.
A single book has so much potential in our hands, potential to expand our horizons and self-development without even having to leave the living room. Books are such a gift, and no one says it better than Dr Seuss-
“The more you read the more you know, the more you know the more places you’ll go.”
Mum’s recommended collection of eye-openers: The Memory Shop, American Dirt, No Child of Mine