Reading regularly will pave the world for life most awesomely lived. Here’s why we need both authors and books, both as individuals and the world.
#1- Books Can Teach Us Endless Amounts of Things
You can learn so much through reading.
You can learn about helicopter theory, gardening, how to speak Italian, or better communication skills with friends and loved ones. You can learn life-changing insights about romantic relationships or dysfunctional family relations. You can learn things you didn’t know about nutrition, health, and the human body which then improve the quality of your life.
You can learn how to care for an animal, what it might be like to live in Japan, how the solar system works, what it could be like to experience the world as an insect, about climate change or the opioid epidemic, how to plan a great party, how to be a better writer, and so much more.
Books offer endless knowledge and learning up on a platter for the taking to anyone who takes the time to do it. And both fiction and non-fiction give this.
#2- Books Offer Us the Opportunity for Empathy and Other Perspectives
Fiction is especially excellent at this. Because, while fiction is “pretend” to some degree, it is also based on real human experiences, emotions, dilemmas, and lives. Fiction, if we are open to it, helps teach us how to be human.
Within fiction, we can get some semblance of an idea of what it might be like to be homeless, to live as a drug addict, or as a transgender person, or as someone who grew up in a home where their parents didn’t love them.
Imagining what these experiences and lives might feel like? This is important with regards to empathy, relationships, and wisdom.
Within a similar line of thinking, reading the perspective of flawed, “unlikeable” characters is also important. Why? Because all of us have good and bad inside ourselves. Thus, reading about these characters can offer a glimpse into the depths of ourselves, or, of the darker sides of other good people.
We can learn why the parents were neglectful and terrible to their kids. This doesn’t mean we like them, but it can offer some degree of understanding, empathy, or humanizing that wasn’t there prior when we didn’t know the details. The serial cheater who comes from a seriously traumatic background? Again, it doesn’t mean we like them or approve of the cheating, but we get it. And when we get it, we become kinder, more forgiving, more empathetic, open individuals.
I could go on and on with examples but hopefully, you get the idea. Stories are important to humanity, in terms of understanding each other and viewing one another through new eyes.
#3- Books Can Heal, Offer a Sense of Solace, and Remind Us We Aren’t Alone
This can be the case with reading any book that speaks to you at a particular moment in your life. Though, it likely often happens with books on topics of trauma, grief, loss, difficult relationships, and love.
Books can offer us ways of thinking, insights, and inspiration that help us with our own emotional healing. They can give us the feeling, “Oh, someone else has felt this too. I’m not alone.” They can lead us down alternate ways of thinking and living that are healthier and more healing for us.
Books are also an important reminder to us of all the possibilities in the world, outside our small, individual bubble.
#4- Books Show Us Both the Most Entertaining and Uplifting Part of Human Life, As Well as the Darkest and Most Painful
Both of which are real, and both of which are crucial to becoming wise humans.
We cannot live a truly inclusive, authentic, empathetic, and wise life if we move through the world avoiding anything that upsets up, avoiding everything ugly and dark, and not engaging with things that are difficult or challenging.
Why? Because these things are a huge part of the world and of the authentic human experience.
Thus, if you block, side skirt, and avoid all of it? You are cutting yourself off from much that is real and important about the world and about people.
Engaging fully with life means reveling in the fun, the uplifting, the beauty, and the good. And it also means turning toward the painful, the challenging, the difficult, and the uncomfortable.
#5- Books Are a Method of Humans Communicating With One Another Across Distances
If a person has something to say? Well, they can try writing and publishing a book about it. This is a significant method of people communicating with each other, through writing books. It’s a way that people can get important messages out there to their culture and the world at large.
Books are also a means by which we can all teach each other things (as well as learn from one another).
On a smaller scale, ever recommend a book to a friend and they loved it? This is a form of connection and communication between you two. It can infuse each of you with a greater layer of understanding of the other. As in, “wow, he or she loved that book too, just like me, and for similar reasons.” You have a crossover with one another in that regard.
#6- Books Can Change the Culture and Ultimately, the World
Consider all the books that have changed some aspect of culture or society.
1984 by George Orwell launched the dystopian genre, and its influence is still pervasive today. The story will always be an important reminder that freedom of expression and thought is worth any cost in society.
Aesop’s Fables has continued to be used to teach simple moral lessons for decades.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu. His teachings in the book have been embraced by the worlds of business and law to learn how to gain the upper hand in arguments and negotiations.
The Diary of Anne Frank is probably the most widely read and influential book to have come out of the Holocaust.
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Friedan’s 1963 classic is credited with sparking the second-wave feminist movement. While the first wave of feminism focused on issues like women’s suffrage and property rights, the second wave raised questions about sexuality, family, the workplace, and reproductive rights. The research for the book involved Friedan delving into psychology and the media as well as conducting interviews with suburban housewives to try and figure out why they were unfulfilled. The New York Times said that the book “permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States” in Friedan’s obituary.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair shows how members of the working-class lack the social support they need to get even their basic human rights fulfilled and suffer from hopelessness caused by a lack of social mobility as well as depression from their harsh working and living conditions. The book is also very famous for exposing disgusting aspects of the meatpacking industry from companies not following basic health guidelines and sanitizing as they were supposed to.
This list can go on and on and on, if we were to sit down and think carefully about it, of books that have shifted cultural ways of thinking and being.
Books and reading add so much to your personal life, to our culture, and to the world at large.
Books expand your vocabulary. They take you out of the singular life you’re living and drop you into the life and story of another. They make you think and can stir intense emotion inside you. Books can make you a more interesting conversationalist. A more worldly, varied, intelligent person. Books can offer you different ways of thinking about relationships and life, and thus, improve your life as a result.
Books, in countless ways, make your life better.
And they make the world a better, wiser, more interesting place.