02 Mar 2023
World Book Day: Why Reading Changes Lives
I didn't always perform well in high school, and I thought I was the type of reader who needed visuals or music playing in the background to concentrate. For a long time I thought “Well, maybe I need to get checked out" or "I'm not as smart as my friends, because I cant seem to focus for long periods of time so something must be terribly wrong with me". Let's just say I was wrong and the issue was that I was simply reading books that I didn't like.
During a music business class at university, one of my lecturers shared a book with me called “The Heart of a Lonely Hunter” by Carson Mcullers and for the first time I was able to read without feeling distracted and personally, I think it’s because I felt supported. Somebody suggesting something personal to me made me feel like I had no other choice but to cherish the moment and focus this time. Fast forward to today, I now love books because it’s my form of escapism and where I choose to go when the world is super noisy. If you’re somebody who is thinking of getting back into reading, here are some pointers to get your reading juices flowing again.
Knowledge: “Knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.” – Guinean Proverb
Reading is great for enhancing knowledge because books provide a great source of wisdom on wide ranges of topics, depending on what you like of course. Whether you want to learn about music, history (I love African American History), science, philosophy, faith, identity or any other subject, there are books available that can provide you with the information you need. Sounds good right?
Language: “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.” – Chinese proverb
Improve your vocabulary and language skills with the exposure to different writing styles, sentence structures, and new words. It will give you an opportunity to expand your understanding of language and help you become a better communicator. I know for myself, reading has broadened my horizons and helped me to understand life in a different way, it’s given me open mindedness and allowed me to accept and express myself through learning.
Creativity: "Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought." – Albert Einstein
I remember when I first read ‘God Help The Child’ by Toni Morrison. After finishing that book I was so emotional I wrote a song about one of the chapters. Books have a way of taking you on a journey sometimes and you can almost find yourself drifting back into your reality again thinking about what that character is doing one day as you put the dishes away. My point is that reading also helps with developing imagination and creativity. Books can take you to new worlds and introduce you to new characters and situations. This can help develop your imagination and creativity, as well as your ability to empathise with others, which is always important.
Mindfulness: “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
While the world itself is chaotic, I do believe some authors give us free plane tickets to take a ride whenever we open their novels. With stress and anxiety more rampant than ever these days, it is important we take care of ourselves in our leisure time. Reading books can be a great way to relax and reduce stress and anxiety. When you read, you are transported to a different world. Your mind is focused on the story or information in front of you, allowing your mind to clear from worldly concerns. It provides an escape from the pressures of everyday life and can help you unwind and recharge.
Happy World Book Day! Go grab your next book.
By Desiree Ofori