How many times have you been told reading will take you nowhere?
In my years of reading and collecting books, I have been told a couple of times by people I care about that “reading is good once in a while, but you shouldn’t make it your top priority.”
I don’t understand how these people could not see the beauty in books, and I don’t understand why they can’t bring themselves to understand that reading matters to me.
Last week, I turned to Instagram to share an incident that happened to me regarding a colleague who underestimated me and my love for books. She said reading is boring, and it makes one unproductive; she said she’d rather travel than read, that it’s only considered “reading” when you’re doing it for educational purposes, because fiction doesn’t really count.
It was disturbing—the way she talked about me and my books. It angered me, but it also sparked an idea.
I decided to ask some readers what reading means to them to spread the word that reading is power. They willingly participated and shared their stories with me, which I’m now sharing with you.
Be ready to be touched, because these stories are too real and too deep to handle.
When I was a kid and things were going wrong and everything was getting too much for me I’d pick up a book because it took me away from it and help me to immerse myself in a different life. When I was a teenager I used to self harm quite badly but when I read I’d forget everything that made me want to do it and it would help me get through whatever was upsetting me. I feel like books not only educate you and broaden your vocabulary it can help to calm your mind or just get you through times and when you remember the books, you remember everything that you’ve overcome.
Reading is bliss, reading provides sanity where there is hardly any left, and reading is most definitely an escape. It is an escape that allows anyone to find inspiration and hope and love where their life lacks, and it can bring a whole community together as one big family (example: bookstagram). If she says it’s ‘not productive’, then clearly she hasn’t heard of any famous author or poet that has made society as it is today. Not only that, dreams have come true and careers made solely through people’s love of books, and if that alone doesn’t scream ‘productive’, I don’t know what does. Reading is an art, and has helped many be as creative as they can be, including me.
I want to escape into a world because I can’t bear living in reality anymore. I feel so many emotions whenever I read books! Emotions I never actually feel. I find so much passion in books, passion I can’t find in real life and they have taught me so much.
I really liked what Neil Gaiman said: ‘Reading is dreaming with your eyes open’. Every time I read a book I travel, I learn new things, I understand how different people operate. Books are milestones in my life – I can remember things that have happened by looking at the book I was reading at the time. I feel sad for this person that she hasn’t found a book she loves, or that she can’t see the value of having time by yourself with a book.
…I love reading because it makes me feel loved and less alone. And I know that’s weird to say. Because how can you feel loved by something inanimate? Well, there’s this quote, it’s by John Green I think and it goes, ‘Books – they weren’t ladders out of the abyss, but they were companions.’ And it’s so true for me. Books, most of the time, don’t help me solve my life problems. But they provide comfort when I need it. Words, for me, is home, at the end of the day, I always turn to words. That probably doesn’t make sense but when I’m in trouble or confused, I write to help me sort out my thoughts. When I’m happy, I write so I can remember what I felt that day and what made me so light. But most importantly, when I need to get away, I read. And that’s important to me because I find it hard to turn to people in times of need. So instead of running to someone, I turn to reading. And that makes everything so much better.
Reading is educating yourself, even if you read fiction – maybe ESPECIALLY if you read fiction, because you educate yourself on life itself. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t read all the books I have. I’ve learned more from books than any teacher or class in school ever taught me. Books made me want to learn, to look up new things, if a book mentioned a person or a place or an event that sounded interesting, I read about it more online. So you are most definitely doing important things when reading. Also, escaping into a book is entering a world that is completely yours and yours alone. It’s like having a friend you can always go back to, no matter what. It’s pure love!
…Reading makes you smarter, helps you discover a deeper meaning to life and helps you be more creative and communicative. I’ve been reading since I was a young girl, and have always loved the escape – reading whisks you away, it takes you somewhere, it curls around you and protects you from all the bad things in life, even if just for a small moment. And sometimes that’s all you need. Oh, and a nice warm cup of tea (and sometimes a lovely scented candle).
…Reading, for me, is a way to escape my own head. I’ve struggled with depression for four years, and reading or writing is really my only way to deal with it without consulting someone else personally. I believe the quote goes something like this: “I do not read for I have forsaken life; I read because one life is not enough for me.” My dad always makes fun of me for reading fiction, but I think fiction gives us a way to talk about the difficult things and makes them entertaining. Fiction broadens your mind, makes you more creative, and most of all just makes life more interesting.
I have been bullied on for 2 years, I have been suicidal, I have been depressed, I have been on the edge. But right at that moment, when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, my cousin gave me this book and I loved it. That’s how I discovered the magic of books. By reading I can escape reality, because of reading I’m doing way better now. Reading has helped me through the hardest time of my life and I can say that I’m doing way better now and I don’t know if I would have made it without my books. That’s what reading is for me…
Reading not only makes you smarter, it makes you more imaginative and allows you to see the world in new light. Readers are open-minded people, but are also strong-willed with firm beliefs. Those who read tend to be more relational and able to relate to others because they had lives the lives of SO many different people through literature. And besides that, it’s a hobby. And enjoyment. Who cares if reading is productive? Even if it wasn’t, it’s fun, and that’s what matters.
These stories by real people matter to me. It’s funny how people are so quick to demean others for doing what they do or liking what they like. Nothing feels worse than telling people what you love and being told you’re not doing enough, but if you really love what you’re doing, no words can bring you down.
Books and readers make me feel as though I belong in a secret community, and I’m loving the feeling. So whenever you feel you’re alone for finding joy in reading, just remember there are thousands—heck, MILLIONS—out there who will always welcome you in this community where people believe that reading is power.
Stories shared by users on this Instagram post.