My fascination with books began quite late in life. While I was a fair writer, I hadn’t read much.
I was almost 16/18 when I read my first full novel – Nothing Lasts Forever by Sidney Sheldon. Before that, my reading was strictly limited to comics like Tinkle, Archie, Mandrake, Phantom, etc. They were (and still are) great. But ever since I swam through the pages of Harry Potter, life has been a lot different.
I’ve gone on to read some of the most celebrated books in the world to some of the most despised. No matter the content the pages of the books held, my love for them has only increased over time.
Now, I am a book nut who instantly cheers up when I see someone reading. So, when people tell me that they haven’t read a single book in their entire life, it makes me sad. Some say books don’t provide the same “entertainment” as movies do, some say they fall asleep if they read a couple of pages, and some just prefer being dumb. Okay! The last one is a bit harsh, but all I’m trying to say is that books are more than what they give credit for.
There are quite a few reasons why you should read books.
1. They transform you into a writer
Many writers will vouch for the fact that the reason they’ve become successful writers is that they read a lot. They get inspired by the words of other writers, thus laying the foundation for their journey to becoming a writer. You can borrow ideas by reading good books or develop your ideas for your book. The best example of this is fan fiction. When you read some of the stories written by fans, you wonder why they don’t write books themselves. They are amazing writers because they read a lot and are passionate about their favourite characters.
If you aren’t someone who reads books, you can never become a good writer. That’s why you’ll see that a lot of mediocre and below-average authors aren’t good storytellers because they only write for money, not to inspire others.
2. They make you happy
This one is from personal experience. Books transport you to a world where your problems don’t exist anymore. They are an escape from your reality. When you read about your favourite characters going through the same trials and tribulations, it makes your problems a little more bearable. And if the characters overcome their problems, it gives hope that you’ll also get through.
I understand that clinical depression is not something that can be cured instantaneously with a book, but it does help a little in taking the pain away. A happy ending for your characters will show that there is a happy ending for you too and that there is nothing in the world that can keep you from it. Plus, there are actual books on dealing with depression and other mental illnesses. So, reading about them will definitely help you.
3. They improve your language skills
You may have come across some unfamiliar words while reading. So, what do you do? Look it up, of course. Now, you have a new word in your vocabulary and have expanded your mind a little bit more. The first ‘big word’ I learnt, thanks to reading, was quintessential. A few days later I used the word in an essay-writing contest and I won 3rd place. It may have been because of the essay as a whole, but I gave credit to that particular word.
Books help you learn new languages, words, phrases, and slang that you may not be familiar with. As language keeps evolving, it becomes difficult to keep up with the latest additions to the dictionary. But reading can help you overcome those limits in a convenient way.
4. They open your mind
I often hear people say that those who read have an air of arrogance around them. They act as though they are superior to those who haven’t read books. However, I find that people who do not read are arrogant and snooty. This probably has something to do with ignorance. The more ignorant and egotistic you are, the less open-minded you’ll be.
This is one of the main reasons why reading books is important. Books open your mind to realities that make you humble. They offer you the ability to see different perspectives and empathize with scenarios that wouldn’t happen if you were to waltz around thinking you are better than everyone else without having turned a single page of literature. Those who don’t read, have only their perspective to look from and hence, are less likely to be open-minded.
5. They make you fall in love
Book readers are some of the most hopeless romantics I have ever seen. I’m including myself in the list. We fall in love easily, get our hearts broken (because our love finds their ideal partner, who is not us, or dies trying to save the world from an evil wizard, or we ourselves fix them up with someone from the same book), cry over them, and finally get over them by moving on to a new book and a new love.
Books teach us how to love. The ‘who’ is up to us. The how is perhaps more important than the who. Because who we love is entirely our choice, but how we love them is not. Books can help us understand more about love and how we can develop equal and healthy relationships.
6. They introduce you to your fictional significant other
Harry Potter introduced me to my first ever fictional boyfriend – Sirius Black. Ever since his appearance in the third instalment, Prisoner of Azkaban (the best of the series, if I may add), I’ve been in love with him. That’s why the Order of the Phoenix was hard to read (you know, because of the thing that happens). I was fascinated by Sirius’ character. His entire character arc was brilliantly crafted. Gary Oldman is a great actor. Now it’s difficult to see Sirius as anyone but Oldman, but the Sirius Black in my head was totally different and still is.
I’ve seen other readers who have major crushes on fictional characters. Some of them have even married them in their heads. They wouldn’t have found these boyfriends and girlfriends if it weren’t for books.
7. They introduce you to your actual significant other
There is nothing more attractive to me than someone who reads; whose nose is buried in a good book when they’re free; who can talk about books at length all day; and who has intellectual depth. You can find many stories on the internet where someone met their partner because they were reading on the subway, at a coffee shop, etc.
Imagine meeting someone who’s basically you, in a different body but with the same mind. Knowing that they have read the same books as you, like the same fictional universes as you, fight with you about which ship was better, is so amazing. Now, that’s a match made in a library!
8. They play with your emotions
Books, especially good books, make you go through a roller coaster of emotions. One moment you’re all happy and cheerful, and the next moment you learn that J.K.Rowling killed off your fictional soulmate. I have read books that have made me happy, made me cry, made me unhappy, made me afraid, made me angry, made me depressed, made me laugh, and made me want to murder someone. Some books have made me feel all these emotions.
You read books from your heart and mind; that’s why they play with your emotions. You are so invested in the characters and their universes that you forget that reality is far different from what’s portrayed in the book. But still, after you’ve turned the last page, you know that you may never be the same ever again.
9. They never leave – your mind or your heart
You know what happens when there’s no internet or electricity? There’s no TV, no Netflix or PrimeVideo, and no form of lazy entertainment. (I use the term ‘lazy entertainment’ because people I know personally, who are overwhelmingly lazy, only binge-watch stupid shows and movies. For them, books are boring. They don’t get the concept that their favourite shows were sourced from books.) There are only books you can turn to. You can read them by candlelight as well. So, you see, books are always available to you. Your bookshelf, the table, the bed, the bathroom, the fridge, the balcony – no matter where you’ve kept them, they’re always available whenever you need them.
Mentally too, books stay with you. How many times have you thought about a scene or a situation in a book and related it to your current situation? How many times have you thought, “Hmm! What would my favourite character do in this situation?” That’s what books do. Once you love them, they stay with you forever – on your shelf, in your heart, and on your mind.
10. They never give up on you
Books keep you going during tough times. When I was going through a rough time, it was Harry Potter that assured me. All I had to do was open the pages. And voila! There it was. The story of hope and triumph. My books have always been there for me. When no one could (or rather, would) help me, it was my books that stayed with me and got me through the tough times.
Books make you hopeful for a better world. Most books usually show the protagonist’s life becoming better one way or another. There are probably very few books where there is no happy or at least a satisfactory ending. This makes you feel that the problems in your life too will get resolved and you have a chance at happiness again. I know, I do. After all, success begins with hope.
11. They love you no matter what
Have you ever been angry at a book and thrown it across the room? Have you ever torn pages out of a book just to spite someone? Have you defaced your books with markers, pens, pencils, and anything you could lay your hands on? You have, haven’t you? So have I. But books don’t get back at you for how you’ve wronged them. They’ll stay the same no matter what you do to them. They’ll always love you.
12. They give you great tattoo ideas
There are so many amazing tattoos that are inspired by books. I myself have two – one of a dragon (looks like a Hungarian Horntail and is named Sirius) and the other of the Deathly Hallows. Both inspired by? What else? Harry Potter, of course. It is an amazing feeling to have a part of something you love permanently etched on your being. It’s not just me, but there are millions of people who get tattoos of their favourite characters, book covers, book titles, or any symbolism that connects them to their books.
I love the story about how J.K. Rowling handwrote ‘Expecto Patronum’ for a fan’s tattoo. I am planning to get it done for myself.
Do you have any such tattoos?
13. They are so beautiful
Now, beauty is subjective. One person’s ‘beautiful’ is another person’s ‘blah’. But, how can you not be mesmerized by books that have beautiful covers? I have bought so many books just by looking at their covers. The creativity of some of the books covers is absolutely mind-blowing.
I appreciate the people who work tirelessly to conjure and create beautiful book covers. Having worked with Graphic Designers and Illustrators, I understand the process that spans hours and sometimes, days. Some covers are truly works of art. And you can’t help but pick them up and bring them home (after buying them, of course. Please don’t steal.)
14. Our love for them is never unrequited
Books are not objects, they are souls. Souls of the authors that have bled on their pages. Souls of the characters that walk through them. Souls of ourselves that we reflect when reading them. These souls will always love us because they reflect our deepest emotions. It is only with a book that we can truly be ourselves. I know that no matter what I do or how I feel, books will never ever not love me back. A reader’s love for books is, therefore, never unrequited.
15. They are backed by Science
There are numerous studies that show the positive effects of reading. Everything from stress relief, boosting brain power, developing empathy, learning better, reducing the risk of certain mental illnesses, sleeping better, dealing with anxiety, happiness, and becoming an overall better person has been credited to reading books. There are many studies from reliable sources that prove without a doubt, that reading books is one of the best ways to keep your mind peaceful, happy, and healthy. And isn’t that what we all want?
These are my reasons why you should and, frankly, everyone should read books. Do you agree?
If you need any inspiration, check out my 2020 reading challenge.