The journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page – Rachel Adams.
Reading is in decline, especially in young people. The opportunity to read is a privilege that every child, teenager and adult should have. It gives us the chance to experience an adventure of some kind, take a leap into a different world and build a personal vocabulary that we might not learn during the day-to-day. The joy of picking up a book has been lost as the digital age grows and grows. Reading has become a luxury; that feeling of switching off from the world and diving straight into a story, feeling as though you are the only person in the world experiencing it. And then, you find all these other people who have read it too and feel the same emotions, the same joy, the same heartbreak and you can find friends in these people, the ones who get you, just as you get them.
Reading brings people together. I bonded with one of my very best friends through our love of the same books. We had no idea that we enjoyed reading books about angels and demons, vampires and werewolves. After we talked through the remainder of our shift together, we were basically on the same page about almost everything in life. That was nearly four years ago. Books have that magic about them that allows you to connect with people who you might never have thought to speak to before. You never know where that initial conversation about a book you loved might end up.
Books have been teaching us lessons since we were in school. The classic case of The Boy Who Cried Wolf springs to mind; the constant retelling of “Remember what happened to the boy who cried wolf” as if our local sheep were to get eaten if a lie ever passed our lips again. It was ridiculous, of course, being from a place where there wasn’t many herds of animals, there were never any sheep or wolves to lie about. And yet, the moral of the story stuck with us through our younger years because we never wanted to be like the boy who cried wolf. As we get older, the lessons become more complex in some ways and less so in others. Stories teach us what is right and what is wrong, but they also tease us and entice us into trying new things, breaking the rules and living our life. We have to try these things in order to make mistakes, in order to live. Books tell us that it is okay to be who we are, that it is okay to want to do something different, be unique and live life how we want to live it (within reason, of course). Mostly, they are a universal platform that excites, teaches and breaks the boundaries that society puts us in. As long as we read books, we can be taught so much about the world, the way different people live different lives and we can do all of that without ever having to experience it for ourselves, although I implore you to go out into the world and do that too.
From the pages of a book you can fly to destinations that are of this world or a world born from somebody’s imagination. You can try to understand how it feels to come from a different place and be born into a different race. You can see the world through somebody else’s eyes. You might not like what you see, but the barefaced truth is better than being fed a spoon full of vicious lies. Books are especially beautiful if they are the only window to the outside world you have. Perhaps you fear going outside for long periods of time, or could never bring yourself to get on a plane. Perhaps you don’t have the money to explore a place that you so desperately want to see and so need something to fuel your fire to try and get there someday. Imagining the place through the words on a page is a magical feat and sometimes you always imagine something far brighter than your eyes could ever capture. Having a library of books at your fingertips (support your local ones or build your own) will allow you to experience places that you’ve never even thought of.
Loneliness can be a twisted nightmare and at its worst, a killer. Even though you are not surrounded by people you know and who know you, books can help ease the pain of feeling alone. At the very least, they can give you a full sense of enjoyment for a few hours that will be a welcome distraction from the white noise that surrounds you. Upon first glance, that is the importance of reading and loneliness. In a different way, the characters that come alive between the pages can reflect who you are as a person, your loves, your hates, the way you feel obscured from the world and the way you feel like you don’t belong. Even if they are not a physical person, they can become real in your mind because you feel as though you know them. There is a reason so many people ship couples, cry when characters cry and feel elation when they read their favourite book. Reading books can bring you so much joy and defeat the loneliness that everyday life can bring.
For World Book Day, remind yourself why you fell in love with reading, inspire people young and old to pick up a book and cherish it. Let’s make the entire world enjoy books again. You can do your bit by donating old books to charity, hosting a book swap or imploring people to head to their local library. Reading should be accessible for everyone so we can learn, explore and understand stories, histories and people from across the globe.
What are your thoughts and feelings about books? Do they inspire you? Allow you to explore different realities apart from your own? Let me know and let’s start a conversation about why books are so special.
Love, Faye xo