I believe in reading everything. Not everything is good, and not everything is true, and not everything is enjoyable. Read it anyway.
Because reading is freedom. It improves our quality of life and fortifies us against the manipulation and control the unread are vulnerable to.
Read, because books are the gifts that keep on giving, that boost you up, transport you to another time and place, teach you new things, remind you of old things. They stay in your mind and inform and delight you for years to come.
Read the hard books that you don’t really understand. One day, you will. Like the teenager you once were who said, “I don’t need this school subject, I’ll never use it,” you will look back one day and see how indeed you did (assuming you live long enough, for wisdom takes time).
Read the books that are outside your category or preference: children’s books, woman’s literature (if you’re a man), fantasy, sci-fi, comics, graphic novels, memoirs, poetry, textbooks, cookbooks, commentaries, biographies. The more you read outside your preference, the more preferences you develop.
Read books by diverse people. The more voices you read in literature, the more humans you see on sidewalks.
Finish the books you start. Unfinished books fill your mind with unfinished lives. They leave you empty of hope and imagination for your own life because you’ve never seen the many ways a story can play out.
Read the books you love again and again. You’ll learn something new each time you do. (This is the hardest thing for me to do because I just want to get to the next book, and there’s only so much time.)
Read the books that challenge your opinions. You don’t know what you believe until you also know what you don’t believe, and the knowing and not knowing is the mental exercising that keeps you intelligent, humble, and wise.
Read labels and packaging. No, they’re not literature, but they make you aware of words, gimmicks, manipulation, humor, and whether your cereal is a sufficient source of iron and vitamin D.
Read and give books to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, neighbors, and whatever children show up in your life. They will read the ones they like and ignore the ones they don’t. They’ll learn to be comfortable with pages and words, even when they don’t appreciate them.
Keep reading, and tell others what you’re reading. Share the joy of stories, the quiet, magical space between your eyes and the page. It’s the reprieve we all need. Numerous studies have linked screen time with rising anxiety, while reading improves mental health.
Thank you for reading this.