“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or book long enough to suit me.” – C. S. Lewis
When I was a young child, I learned an appreciation for the written word through both of my parents reading aloud to me and through listening to audiobooks on long car trips.
Somewhere during the dreaded forced reading during my secondary and tertiary schooling, I lost my fascination with reading. Then, over time, with that lack, I noticed other things were lacking.
There are so many reasons to read: to inform, to amuse, to connect, to understand, to critique, and so on. Reading is a fantastic way to improve our empathy and ability to understand the position of others; to travel the world and understand different cultures and societies; and to increase our knowledge.
Without reading, I was absorbing less new information about the world, and what I got was through the hollow echo chamber of my social media feeds. I was becoming more self-focused. The more I didn’t read new information, the less inclined I became to seek out new information. I was spinning my wheels and stunting my cognitive, emotional, and relational growth.
So, I started, bit by bit, to find my way with reading again. I re-entered the world of literature through the comforting, familiar, well-worn tracks of books that I remembered enjoying when I was younger.
Once I’d gotten my feet wet with reading again and I was feeling more confident, I joined an open book club run by a Brisbane local bookstore, Avid Reader. In the year and a half that I attended that book club, I learned much about the world, about others, about myself (including what I enjoy in books and what I don’t), and I participated in a range of interesting and thought-provoking discussions.
Nowadays, my reading tastes are mostly in fiction, but I have realised that reading memoirs or biographies has enabled me to further understand the minds, motivations, and actions of others, especially those in the public eye. It has given me greater appreciation for the hardships they have faced and allowed me to make more balanced and constructive critiques of their choices.
Part of the issue with the media climate, especially the consumption of “news” on social media, is that it often isn’t the whole story. We are hearing only what those in our social media circles think we want to hear. That kind of “news” isn’t moving us forward in our individual knowledge, or as a society.
I would encourage you to consider reading a range of material, including books, to gain more understanding of what is happening in our world and where we are heading as a society. It will enrich your own understanding and the conversations in your social circle. And, over time, small changes can lead to big shifts.
So, go and get a cup of tea and settle down with a good book. Your future self will thank you for it.