Why should we read?

In the light of the newspaper launch, we might sit back and ask ourselves as to why we should even waste part of our precious time reading. The outside world provides so much excitement and action, so why stay inside and pick up a book?
The answer is actually quite simple: contrary to popular belief, literature doesn’t close the door to the outside world; instead it opens many more than we’d normally not? have access to. Through books we can experience different cultures, societies and events that would, under normal circumstances, pass us by. Books make us understand the world better. For instance, the Renaissance itself is proof enough that printing is the key to spreading thoughts, opinions and information. Reading encourages critical thinking.

Through books we can “meet” people from times long past and salivate over the glory of talented heroes and their fascinating journeys. If the over-glamorized, shallow role models that prank every magazine cover can’t abide to your preferred values, we can find role models in epics and sagas.
Literature is first and foremost a medium for another person to share his or her own opinions, ideas and life stories. Seldom do we share our innermost thoughts with others, but writing gives us a chance to do so. As it tells life from another person’s perspective, it is an opportunity for us to stand in another person’s shoes. Through that, we can understand lives other than our own: We can understand how different people think and feel. We can realise that no one is perfect; everyone deals with their faults and in consequence it makes us kinder and more open towards others.
What is more, in writing there can be complete honesty of emotions. When we feel misunderstood or down, they help us realise we don’t stand alone, that everyone suffers from hidden despair and grim thoughts. In the words of Emerson: “In the works of great writers, we find our own neglected thoughts.” Literature helps us cope, and find answers to many problems we might face.

Descriptions of feelings help us get in touch with our own emotions and understand them better; it helps us to find a way to put just those into words. As we read, we learn how to use and play with language. It can give us skills non-readers can only dream of and aid us whenever we need to convince, speak to or communicate with someone.
Language is often said to set the barriers of our world. The more words jump up from the page into our brains, the more will our barriers shrink.
If we’re dissatisfied with contemporary society, reading about history and other cultures can help us understand better what’s wrong with it and what used to be different. We also realise that societies are volatile, always changing and that nothing will stay the same forever. Reading might even leave us grateful for living in a time where we enjoy more freedom and less oppression.

Good books should pull us in, stimulate our imagination and make us think and contemplate: they should enrich our inner lives. And if that isn’t enough, stories are great sources of entertainment and joy. Say what you want about mass assembly commercialised pop books. They can at least keep us hopeful, serve as a good distraction and keep us happy whenever we need to escape our mundane, sinister lives and help us forget that life is indeed meaningless and without purpose. Books keep our hope that true love prevails, good always wins and that there is magic in this world alive.

by Libyana Fortgale

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