The benefits of reading

Books don’t always have to mean schoolwork

Written by Robyn Gilmour


We've all had those days where it's lashing rain outside and the only reasonable option is to just say inside in our pyjamas all day as we migrate from screen to screen over the course of 24 hours. We all know how it feels, and we also all know how empty we feel once the telly has been turned off, the laptop has run out of battery or the phone get lost in the folds of the duvet. Our brains are just empty shells when we're done. It's a miserable feeling when the virtual world is turned off. We are suddenly lost, with no life or source of entertainment. Boring.

There are solutions to this feeling though. They say you could go for a jog! Meh, I say to that. So what’s the other option? Reading. Before you say anything, I know what you’re thinking – he’s a book nerd; no one likes reading! In my opinion though, everyone has an inner bookworm. How deep this bookworm is buried depends on the person, but trust me, there is a solution and every person has a key to unlocking their inner nerd. The only downside to this is that each and every person has a different key, which is why people generally don't read. They simply haven't found the type of book that makes them tick. As an open book worm I can recommend a range of books that I know anyone would love. So let's start with my top five books of all time. For all you non-readers out there, this is a five step guide to becoming a regular reader. In fact, if you see out all five books to the end, I can put money on it that you will continue reading.

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

For those of you who have seen the movie, the book is so much better. The style, characters and storyline in the book have captivated every person I've ever recommended it to, all of whom said the movie paled in comparison to the book. I don’t want to rush you, but I would recommend starting soon, as the second book of the trilogy, Catching Fire, is going to hit the cinema hard this year in November. Although, since every person I have recommended this to has read the entire trilogy in a week, this shouldn't prove to be an issue for most people.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

When you've nailed The Hunger Games trilogy, I have another one lined up for you. Divergent is along the same lines as The Hunger Games in relation to style. I would say this book is as good, if not better (I know you didn't think that was possible) than The Hunger Games. It’s a “must have” for budding readers. Plus, its big sister, Insurgent, is equally as nail biting and exiting. The newest edition to the family is still a work in progress so that should be something to look forward to once you've successfully gotten hooked on Roth's epic masterpiece.

3. Paper Towns by John Green

As amazing as The Hunger Games and Divergent is, I accept that the world is full of different people who enjoy different things, so Paper Towns breaks away from the fantasy aspect of writing and diverts back to real life. It's a truly intriguing story full of adventure that is actually achievable in this life, unlike being thrown into arenas to fight to the death. It also features more than one hilarious moment. I'll admit that I often found myself lying in bed laughing out loud reading this book. If you like this you should also read The Fault in Our Stars, which is another inspiring book also by John Green.

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner)

I will admit that as fascinating as this is, it could prove a little heavy for anyone who's still learning the ropes. So I'll forgive you if you skip this one, although I do recommend you give it a go nonetheless. It’s a truly heartfelt and intriguing story about the lives of women in Afghanistan (I won't tell you any more, as I'm not a fan of summaries or blurbs). It was a life changing book for me that really opened my eyes to the world. For anyone who enjoyed The Help, I would put this streets ahead of anything that book tried to convey.

5. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This is by far the most controversial book I have ever read in that it was nothing like the kind of books I had ever enjoyed before. It was a total shock to me when I actually found myself really enjoying it, which I really had not expected. I guess my romantic, soft, girlie side finally made an appearance, so I'll forgive the lads for giving this a miss.

So I leave you with this list of five incredible books that I really enjoyed, and I know you will all enjoy too. When the rain clouds disappear and you're dragged off on long sentimental car rides with your folks, bring a book along and continue your imaginative TV experience with your own blend of characters, scenery and situations. Plus, you won't have to put up with ten minutes of ads when it gets to the good parts; that alone would make me choose books over TV any day. So do me a favour: read at least one of these books and then compare the level of interest to that of the endless pages of hash tags, and the every detail of your friends’ breakfasts you find social networking sites plastered with. If nothing else, reading will improve your English more than any lecture, more than any teacher could tell you, more than any grinds could teach you. Consider reading an investment in your education. Lets face it, how often do you get enjoyment from investments in education?

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