I recently saw a little kid almost walk into a wall because she was reading a book.
It made me so very happy.
Not just because I think it’s funny when people run into things, but because I totally understand the enraptured joy that kid was feeling because of her book.
I’ve had several people ask me recently why I love books so much. (I’m assuming it’s just a question, and not an accusation, like, what is wrong with you, you freaky book girl?) Some people ask me how to start the reading habit, or how they can encourage their kids.
I began my love of books as an extremely emotional and introverted three-year-old. Books were a way to discover the world, escape from my own, and inspire my writing. Characters in books became my closest friends. By the time I was four years old, I was working as an actor and traveled frequently for shoots, so real-life friends were harder to maintain than the ones on the page. Those characters were always there when I needed them, and they always accepted me and welcomed me into their world – it didn’t matter how different I was.
My heart sighs with delight to see a kid reading. They are expanding their mind, learning about the world and figuring out their place in it. Especially now that video games and movies and TV can be all-consuming – reading is all the more sweet.
I’m not going to go on a technology rant and bash TV- I love a good Netflix binge. I love technology. I love my Kindle. I also love paper books and I think there is room for both. I once heard someone say that in the whole physical vs. ebook debate, they were “container neutral” and I thought that was brilliant. I don’t care how we get the words. We just need to get them.
The incredible thing about books is that you can read about absolutely anything. I don’t believe you need to cave to books you “should” read. If Dostoyevsky doesn’t do it for you – no sweat. Read what makes you feel alive and inspired. Read what you love. Is it sailing? Robots? 14th century farming techniques? Great. Find a book about it. Can’t find a book about it? Write a book about it.
Read a book that grabs you by the collar and throws you into the chair. And – this is controversial advice – if you don’t like a book, I believe you have permission to stop reading it. I give a book 50 pages to make me fall in love. If not, no hard feelings, but we go our separate ways. There are too many things I want to read, I won’t force myself to slog through something and resent it. I don’t think authors want you to suffer while reading their work. (Okay, maybe some do, but I don’t.) For me, reading is pure joy. Pure happiness.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read something that challenges you, pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you think differently. Great art has a way of doing that. Art, at its core, is an expression of life and beauty. It might not seem traditionally beautiful – but the best book will contain something breathtaking, hidden in the form of deep truth and skilled wordsmithing.
And there is nothing that makes me happier than discovering something unexpectedly beautiful.
(If you are interested in knowing what books I love, and what I’m currently reading – check out my Goodreads profile, and friend me so we can share book recommendations! I also have specific shelves there for my favorite books on anxiety, meditation, writing, etc.)