When I was little, I loved to read. 3-year-old me would even sit in our living room with a book in her hands “reading” out loud while turning the pages. Well, I couldn´t read yet, but I already pretended to do so as I knew all my favorite stories by heart and knew exactly where I had to turn a page. In fact, I could fool my parents into thinking I was able how to read for a short period of time. That’s how much I always loved books.
Growing up with books
When I grew older and actually learned how to read, it soon became my favorite leisure time activity. I was such a book worm, I spend hours and hours in front of my favorite stories. Unbelievable adventures, dragons and kings. As soon as a book was laying in front of me I was entering a whole new world. I was easily captivated by it, reading on from morning until dawn. Some books left me so fascinated I could barely leave them aside when my mum called me for dinner. Then I sat at the table, anxiously waiting for our meal to be over so that I could go back to my little world again to know how the story would end.
You see, growing up with books and I always loved them. Which is a very fortunate position. My parents made sure that I would read and also read a lot of books to me when I was a child. They knew this experience would make it way easier for me to love and enjoy reading later on and I’m very grateful for that. I know it is a lot harder to enjoy reading books and to even concentrate that long if you didn’t grow up doing so.
Whenever I think back about these times I basically spent my days reading I´m still amazed. How much time did I have, how little else did I have to do then. The older I got though, the less I started to read. Not that books weren´t interesting anymore. I just grew older, had new priorities now. Going out with friends to party and dance was way more important than sitting in front of a simple book. So, the years passed by and I went from reading one book in a day, to one book a week, then one a month and then I lost count. Basically once I entered university my love to read shifted as I was loaded with so much text that I didn’t want to read even more in my free time.
It was just recently that I discovered my long-forgotten passion. Now, I am slowly starting to read more and more again. Reading is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your knowledge, your education. In fact, reading is the best education you can have. There are thousand, millions, billions books in this world about all kinds of different topics. You can learn so much by just grabbing one that peaks your attention. And this kind of education is for free.
Not completely if you buy a book – which can be pricy sometimes. But if I am thinking about how much work lays behind writing a whole book. It´s an incredible amount of time, long hours of work, frustration, dissatisfaction, tears and sweat. And yes, I am talking from experience here – in case you´re wondering. If you take all of that into consideration, I am amazed that a whole book would just be offered for 5€, 10€. That´s the price of eating out once – or even cheaper. Considering how much you can learn from just a simple book I would say spending your money on a book is ten times better than getting a burger menu.
When I started to realize how much I am missing out when I am not reading, when I am not taking advantage of all this free education. We are incredibly lucky to having the possibility to learn in so many different ways. We have libraries, book shops, you can even buy them at a garage sale.
Discovering reading again
When I started to finally read again, a whole new world opened up. I started to read famous books, started with authors like Paulo Coelho. Books from which I could greatly benefit. Just one book could change your life. If it is the right book read at the right time. Books are the home of so many different ideas and concepts. So many different point of view which will enable you to think about what the author just said, agree or disagree. To write a book people usually know a lot about a topic. So, most of the times you can learn a great deal from them.
To maintain my will to read and encourage myself to read as many books as currently possible, I set myself a reading goal. I want to read at least on book a month – which I was able to do for two months now. In our busy lives nowadays, it is hard to maintain the time to read. Being able to put tasks aside that seem more important or more urgent just to sit down and enjoy a book needs at least some willpower. In doing so, in opening myself up to reading once again learned so much in the last months. As I started to read books on how to improve your life, your mindset, even two or three have already created some change. I read books like The 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey, The subtle art of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson or the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. While reading these books I was completely present and therefore absorbed every piece of information like a sponge.
Reading and brain activity
Reading a book also is way more beneficial for yourself than starring at your smartphone or computer screen all the time. I, for example, work on the computer a lot – while writing this post I have been using one as well as in my current job. For me it feels so liberating to being free and away from a screen for a while. Giving my eyes a break and finally focus on something else than a screen.
Screens are the new problem of our generation. I see it every day – in others as well as in myself. We get consumed by social media. We think we will just go on Facebook for five minutes only to look at the watch later to see 1 hour has easily passed by. While just scamming through the feed, without thinking about anything in particular, just killing time. While doing so our brain will not be very active.
So, what happens when we just stare at a screen without doing anything? We find it relaxing, of course. But why? Because staring at a screen doing nothing doesn´t generate brain activity. The lesser the meaning of what we watch is, the less brain activity will be generated. While watching something completely meaningless, we literally don´t use our brain at all. This fact alone should be alarming. I am trying to get away from screens as much as possible, but I, too find myself consumed in social media scrolling through the feed without searching anything. I will elaborate more about this fact in next weeks post.
That´s why I value reading so much now. While reading, your brain is working, it is not falling into a numb state, accepting what it is seeing with generating little to no thought. While reading, your brain needs to work. Otherwise you couldn´t read, you wouldn´t understand what you are reading. Focusing on important content, we can actually escape this screen focused life.
Ever since I realized I´ve become too consumed by this virtual world, it feels so more relaxing and calming to go back into the world of books. As my goal is to read one book a month now I recently also discovered audiobooks.
I have to say I love audiobooks. They are so practical even if you are very busy. I usually listen to an audiobook on my way to work and on my way back, in the gym or just in the streets when I am going to a place I have been a hundred times and don´t need to focus on my way. That´s when I can fully focus on the book, on the words of the narrator. I would highly recommend listening to audiobooks on Audible (find out more about Audible here), which is an app that offers you a great variety of genres. As you can use it on your phone, you will always have it by your side. So I even get to read / listen to two books a month – one in real book, one audiobook. Which is not bad for a start.
The more I read, the more I also discover what is still out there, what I still have to learn. The more you read, the smarter you become – but you also realize more and more that you in fact know nothing and will never be able to know all the things you want to know.
Take your time to read
I can truly say, I learned so much in the past months. Reading also helped me to gain back my focus and to put down my phone more often now. I am also taking time for myself. Reading a book means taking time for yourself. It means putting other obligations aside to read a book want to read. A book you read for yourself, for nobody else. This is your time, when you can make yourself a cup of tea and just snuggle in a comfortable corner to read. To read on and on, letting time pass while you are completely absorbed and focused on the words in your book. At least that´s how it feels to me. I can easily spend hours reading and reading and reading. I would not get bored. It kind of feels like when I was a child again.
So, take your time to read! Start slowly, pick your books wisely. Set a reading goal. You will see how much you will benefit it within the first weeks already.