What You Need to Know About Reading

Reading isn't for me.

I've heard people tell me that when I ask them if they like to read. Usually I look at them in dismay, because I'm baffled by the concept that reading isn't for anyone. On the contrary, it's exactly for everyone. If only everyone knew what they could gain from reading - and I don't just mean the act of reading, but reading books (whether fiction or non-fiction), magazines, journals, and even textbooks!

This isn't kindergarten, I’m aware. We don’t need reminders about how reading is essential, or lectures on how to read. So I'll have this labeled as a friendly article that should serve to remind and enlighten us on the great benefits that reading -- especially literary fiction -- can give us. 

Knowledge expansion
There are three main areas where our knowledge can be expanded  on when we read literary (or other inspiring genre) works. They're as follows:

a. On cultural awareness. Good fiction (and even non-fiction) allows you to be in a place where you might never be, and visualize what you might not otherwise have on your own. It shares insights about other cultures, plants that seed of interest, expands on the little cultural knowledge we may have previously gained, and helps us see these cultures from a new and different perspective.

b. On life experiences. When we read literary fiction or any good genre literature, we get to be in the shoes of the characters in the story, feel their pain, relive their experiences, mistakes, and so on. It brings a sense of understanding about the different situations some people face in real life and how different individuals handle them. We get to understand the prevalent social, economic, political or even psychological issues the author is trying to show the reader and the significance of some actions that these important characters make. We also learn a few things about ourselves as humans -- our limitations and shortcomings, but also our strengths and potency.

c. On world history. Some literary fiction plots are centered on historical periods and events that gives the reader a broader understanding of the era in discussion and the way of life at the time. It expands on the historical knowledge that may have already been attained from education, and adds a fresh outlook on what it was like to live through world-known events such as WW1 and WW2, the Great Depression, The Renaissance period, and so on.

Brain exercise 
a. Thinking outside the box. Reading literature is not only for entertainment purposes, but it's literally a form of exercise for the brain. For example, when we read about the different characters in a plot and the situations they may be facing, we find ourselves thinking and feeling for them, in a way that we may never have thought for ourselves and on our own. 

b. Vocabulary improvement. Reading improves our vocabulary tremendously. After reading familiar words and phrases repeatedly, we automatically figure out their meanings without going for the dictionary, and we begin to insert the phrases in our everyday conversations, which also leads to increase in our general intelligent level.

c. Increase in emotional intelligence = better interaction with those around us. When we're made aware of the issues going on around the world, we gain a better understanding of why things are the way they are, and why people appear to be the way they are or act the way they do. This gives room for allowance and tolerance in our subconscious, allowing us to gain the patience to be more understanding, and thus interacting better with those around us. 

Reading is a great form of entertainment; just like we go to the theaters, karaoke, bowling, skating, or dancing, so is reading in the same category. Reading, especially for book lovers, gives a sense of excitement and anticipation, like watching a movie with your mind's eye – being able to visualize every place, character, access situations, and so on. A jolly good book brings happiness and lightness to the reader, strongly improving the mood of the reader prior to reading.

I'm aware that for some, reading books doesn't always come naturally, especially reading literary fiction, as it's been deemed to be quite dull and wordy. I can assure you, though, that it's not always the case with all literary books. Granted, it's a fact that some books are slow in getting to the 'exciting' part. However, there are also some books in which the details of the very first pages might seem unimportant and mundane, but once you get through those first pages with patience (and maybe a little discipline), you will not regret picking them up, that's an assurance on my part.

So give yourself a chance, pick up a novel to read. If you're an unhurried reader, give yourself a month at most to finish one. Read books (fiction, self-help, history, philosophy, and so on). Read magazines. Read newspapers. Just read. You'll see how much knowledge and awareness you'll gain by doing something so simple, yet so empowering. 

I know you didn't ask, but I thought I'd share my top 12 all-time favorite random fiction books (in no particular order) that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I hope that you'll find the slightest bit of enjoyment if you choose to read them too!

1. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
2. Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
3. Tell Me Your Dreams, by Sidney Sheldon
4. Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
5. The Gift, by Danielle Steel
6. Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
7. Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
8. An Ordinary Woman, by Donna Hill
9. Immanuel's Veins, by Ted Dekker
10. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
11. Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
12. Everything the Heart Wants, by Savannah Page

Happy reading!