When I’m lounging on my comfortable sofa reading, I sometimes have a nagging fear that I’m being lazy. Perhaps I should be “doing something.” Of course, I do have a built-in excuse because usually, I’m reading for work. But, even if it wasn’t this very fun, very enjoyable “work”, isn’t it still good to read? Why should I feel guilty about it?
Why do a lot of us have trouble giving ourselves permission to do something that doesn’t feel like “hard work?” Hey, what’s wrong with FUN WORK?
Nothing, of course. But if you do want some other justification, here are my top eight reasons.
RELAXATION: Even though my pseudo-guilt over being happy and relaxed while reading was the impetus for this blog, I really believe relaxation is beneficial for the body and soul. And, it’s not just me. There’s plenty of research that indicates rest and relaxation make you more, not less, productive. It’s why it’s becoming more mainstream to have resting or napping rooms at corporations like the Huffington Post.
IMAGINATION: As we read, we employ our imagination to paint pictures in our minds. Like a muscle, imagination is strengthened through exercise. When the time comes to use our imagination for other endeavors, we have a toned instrument to employ.
EMPATHY: I think any book has the capacity to teach empathy. Even a mystery, or horror book, you may wonder? Yes! When we read, we must put ourselves in the characters’ shoes. There’s no choice. We are forced to see things from their perspective.
This action can place a ley line in our souls that we can access when we view others who are in situations different than ours.
PRIVACY: The character of Macon Leary in Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist writes travel guides, and for this reason, he must travel frequently. One of the items he is obsessive about packing with him is a thick book, which he becomes duly engrossed in to avoid conversations with strangers who might want to chat him up.
Haven’t we all hidden our heads in a book, at one point or another?
CONVERSATION: Whereas in introversive moments a book creates an effective social shield, it can also be used to incite conversation. When I was a college student and visiting Chicago I wanted to get the cute owner of a Greek restaurant to talk to me. The simple answer to this desire would’ve been to talk to him myself. I have to laugh now that the straightforward approach never entered my mind. Instead, knowing he was Greek, I prominently displayed my copy of a book of Sappho’s poems, feeling sure he would comment on the Greek letters on the cover, even if he wasn’t familiar with her work. He did. Conversation sparked!
CREATIVITY: Writers are artists who use words. And, just like other artists, their work ranges from commercial to rarified. So when you read the work of word-artists of any variety, from novelists to poets to comic book creators like those who imagined the fantastic Crimson Chin, you expose yourself to their brand of creativity and invite the opening up of the same quality within.
KNOWLEDGE: It’s hard to imagine reading a book from which you learn absolutely nothing. Whether it’s a fun new fact, a word whose definition you need to look up, or a story set in a city you’ve never visited, there’s always something to learn when you sit down to read.
FUN: Fun isn’t a four-letter word. Nope, it’s a three-letter word. F-U-N. See? I think sometimes we forget, or at least I do, that when we have fun for no other reason than to have fun, we release tension. When we release tension we’re happier, healthier, and, as a result, more enjoyable for others to be around.
If we read for fun, we’re bringing a better person to face the world when we’re not reading.
Relaxation. Imagination. Empathy. Privacy. Conversation. Creativity. Knowledge. Fun. These elite eight components of life are all enhanced when we read. Now, it could be that you don’t feel the need to justify your lazy time on the couch. But, just in case you do, you now know what a tremendous service you’re doing yourself and the society you live in by reading. Read on!
I hope you enjoyed this collaborative post.
This was a really good article. Thanks for sharing. I especially liked what you wrote about empathy. I think it’s very important to put ourselves in other peoples shoes and try to see the world from alternative perspectives and a well written book is great for that.
This is why I really enjoy the crime fiction novels of Edward Dreyfus. He is a vastly experienced psychologist and brilliantly weaves those themes into his books. He does a wonderful job at helping you understand the emotions and internal conflicts of the characters from a psychological perspective. His book ‘Gag Rule’ is a great example of that. Taking you inside the mind of a woman who’s husband has been publicly outed as a sex offender. I also read The Midnight Shrink and Buddies. I strongly recommend looking out for all three of those but Gag Rule would be my favorite for sure. A truly fantastic book that deserves a lot more attention.