I recall the exact moment when I sounded out each word and realized that I knew the meaning of every one, that I could follow the narrative. It was the beginning of my love affair with books.
People read for a variety of reasons:
- Mental stimulation is one. Reading has been shown to slow the onset of certain types of dementia and even Alzheimer's.
- Reading is a great place to pick up knowledge and learning. There's a good reason we all had "school books".
- Reading is also good for stress reduction, an easy escape from your life and into one where the problems are the protagonist's and not yours.
- Some researchers even think reading can aide in focus and concentration. After all, it takes time and deliberation to finish a book. A reader needs to immerse themselves in the world of the story, blocking out mundane distractions.
- And most of all, reading engenders empathy. That's something sorely lacking in the world today. Bombarded with rhetoric that fosters an "us versus them" mentality, it's almost a relief to be able to turn the page of a book and actually be one of "them", step into their shoes for a time and ultimately realize that we're not all that dissimilar. Reading allows us to experience a world outside our own selfish sphere. It stops the mad rush of life and makes us ponder questions and status quo. Reading lets us experience a story from another side, intimately, internally, with hope and fears interwoven with tough decisions and seemingly insurmountable situations.
Because books are magic.
And reading will save the world.