The pleasures of reading

It’s been a while for me since I ventured into a novel. I found myself trying to stick to the genres I liked – children’s books, young adult novels, and fantasy –, but I often found frustration and impatience at the start of a book. So how did I rediscover how much I loved reading?

It was hard to give new books a chance. I felt like I was in school and the teacher assigned 20 books to read over the summer. Of course, I did not read any of those, because it wasn’t me who picked them. It was the curriculum, or today, a repeated pattern of selection that made the reading experience incredibly boring.

My first “venture” into the world new novels was A Court of Thorns and Roses, a young adult fantasy novel, so I should have loved it, especially since it is an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. But I often found myself rolling my eyes at it for one reason or another… It’s actually a very well-received first installment, but I don’t really want to read the rest, and I suspect that is because, at 23, I grew out of the “young adult” category. (Duh…)

So what became glaringly obvious to me is that I needed to expand on my horizons. I needed to pick up any and every kind of book, because I didn’t know what I liked anymore. To my surprise, the book that grabbed me and prompted me to write this post is a historical children’s adventure novel, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow. It reminded me of the universal pleasures of a novel, and here are the real reasons why you should read. (No, it’s not because your parents told you to.)

  1. It’s an escape from reality. You see, a whole new world is entrapped inside a book, and the only way to unpack it and get to know it is to build it inside your head. It’s tricky and more time-consuming than some video games, films or TV, but the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. (Hello fandoms…!)
  2. It trains your imagination. Like I said, when you read attentively, you can build a whole new world in your head. But why just stop there? This world does not have to be just in your head! You can build it in real life with art. Paint the rooms, sketch the characters, compose a song, write a prequel… Your inspiration can take you to new things in life.
  3. It will build your vocabulary. Especially great with language learners, children’s books are designed to be visually dynamic to teach the readers new common words. It doesn’t have to be a children’s book, of course, but you get the idea.
  4. It entertains you. Storytelling is one of the oldest ways to have fun. Although today we entertain ourselves with memes of cute animals but isn’t that still telling an optimistic story? A book will give you a whole world of that and much more.

So what do you think? Why do you read? Or why do you not read? I would love to hear your thoughts on books!


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