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This week A Look at a Book turned one year old! 🎉
I have had so much fun this year pushing myself to write more regularly, wading more deeply into the world of blogging, and, above all, sharing my love of reading and teaching with all of you.
Thank you for being here and sharing in that love for reading too!
It has also been gratifying to have more bookish conversations with friends and family, inspired by what I’ve been writing and reading. One friend even told me that I made a bigger reader out of her!
Now that’s what I’m talking about 🙂
It’s not that I think reading itself is the absolute most important thing in the world, but it is one of my all-time favorite ways to spend my time, especially if you include all the ways that reading enriches the conversations I have with people, which I do. (Spending time with people is my other all-time favorite way to spend my time, after all.)
Helping others enjoy something that I love so much is such a delight. And having them reciprocate with their own book experiences and recommendations makes it even better.
To that end, I am going to share with you my top four reasons that I love reading, plus some of the most popular posts on the blog (so far) so that you can be inspired today to grab a book, whether at home or from the library!
That way, we can keep the conversations coming 🙂
There are so many skills and so much information that you can learn through reading books, and if you borrow the books from a friend or library, it’s a whole lot cheaper than an official education program!
One of my pastors is a voracious reader. He tells his congregation that when he was little, he’d go to the library and check out every book on one subject, to learn as much as he could about it. Some of my students like to do the same thing: find a topic that interests them and read, read read about it until they find a new interest.
I prefer to mix up my reading, but there’s no doubt about it: reading is a great way to learn.
In Deep Work by Cal Newport, he talks about how even a complicated skill like coding can be learned through reading. According to Newport, the ability to learn a new skill in a short amount of time, including by reading, is one important way to contribute meaningful work to your field and attain a needed edge in one’s career.
You may not want to learn computer coding – though if you do, go for it – but you can learn so many other things just by reading. You can learn about oceans, countries, history (and not just the boring kind), people groups, parenting ideas, fitness strategies, research on sleep, mental health, bees, Greek mythology . . . the possibilities of learning are endless.
Libraries make learning even more endless and accessible. Rather than having to pay for the book, you can learn for free. How amazing is that?
Get a library card. Check out some books. Learn.
2. Increase Your Empathy
You don’t really understand a person until you’ve “walked a mile in their shoes,” right? Well, reading helps people do that.
I can get so immersed in the characters in the story that I feel what they feel and maybe even lose a bit of my sense of self. I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s to an unhealthy degree, but even for people who don’t imagine quite as vividly, reading is an incredible way to get a peak into another person’s experience and their thoughts, motives, and perspective.
Take the book Reign, Rain, for example. A girl with high-functioning autism narrates the story. All of a sudden, it’s easier for people who haven’t been in close relationship with a person with autism (or their family) to empathize with her experience.
Or the book I just finished, When the Men Were Gone – and you get a glimpse into the pain of losing a child, either to one dying at birth or to war.
Reading a book is one of the best ways to walk in someone else’s shoes, short of living a similar experience yourself.
3. Experience a “You too?” Moment
One of of the most powerful things for me is reading a book – whether fiction or nonfiction – and reading a line where the author exquisitely puts into words an experience that I cannot put into words.
One of those moments happened to me when reading the book It’s Okay to Laugh by Nora McInerney Purmort as I was struggling to process the pain of my grandma’s illness and death a few years ago. I had to get past the choice language at times, but her raw honesty put into words what I could barely dare to think/feel, let alone say.
But I have experienced the same thing in fiction more times than I can recount, often just in a quick aside by the character as they react to a circumstance or something someone said.
That type of “You too?!” moment reminds me that I am not alone in whatever I have been thinking, feeling, and experiencing. It slices through the fog of isolation and that alone decreases the power of whatever hard thing I’m processing. Or it even adds humor that I wasn’t previously able to see.
4. Build relationships
Reading is often an individual endeavor, but it can build relationships in two important ways.
- When you and someone else have read the same book, the conversations you have about the book can deepen the relationship and help you get to know that person better or in a different way.
- When you and someone else (or even a whole group) read a book out loud together, it creates a shared experience as everyone reacts to what happens in the story or what is said in the book. That shared experience of reading becomes relationship capital because people end up referring back to the book and/or its conversations, knowing that the people in the group know exactly what you’re talking about because you were all there. Reading aloud is one of the ways I love building a classroom community.
Just thinking about those reasons makes me want to ditch my to do list and read for most of the weekend.
If you want a little more inspiration, here are some of the most popular blog posts from the last year – all about reading and inspiring a love for it in the little people in your life:
- The Best Read-Aloud Book: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles + Free Resources
- 45 Educators Give their Top 3 Tips for Parents
- May 2021 Recent Reads