From a young age I have always lived a busy, hectic lifestyle. I have always enjoyed being on the go and active. This made it difficult to develop an interest in reading as it required the time and patience to sit down, slow down, relax and open a book. I regret not reading more through my teenage years, but I am delighted that I have discovered a new hobby and fondness for the written word. Although I started to read for pleasure during breaks from college, the recent lockdown has given me more time and freedom to engage with it.
I think for some people, like myself, it can be challenging to start reading because there is a perception of it as a mundane activity. I love sports and I have always found great fulfilment, stress-relief and enjoyment from tennis or any form of exercise. However, I have realised that books are also a way to exercise the mind. They let you enter a new world and escape reality if you wish. Great books prompt you to reflect and relate your own experiences to those of the characters. It has the power to express exactly how you are feeling but you never knew how to describe it before. If you find the right book you will be so eager to turn the pages that it will feel impossible to put it down.
You may not enjoy reading instantly, but if you persevere it will reap huge benefits. Last summer, I worked in a Summer camp in the US and reading was a wonderful way to relax and calm down after many busy hours coaching or teaching in the sun. I was so impressed by the amount of reading the kids did during camp in their downtime in the cabin and how many books they brought with them. It is a brilliant way to wind down and learn new things. I think if you give yourself a chance to enjoy reading it helps. All habits take some time getting used to and it may lead to unexpected pleasure and personal growth.
I always thought I could avoid reading through watching films, but I have realised that they are very different experiences. In a book, you are exposed to the inner feelings and thoughts of the characters. You get to imagine the characters yourself. I only picture the actors from the films when I read Harry Potter but the descriptions in the books are still wonderful. I read Normal people by Sally Rooney when it was released and again before the tv series, so it was nice to be able to compare my original ideas of the characters and the events with their portrayal on screen.
A friend recommended reading Pride and Prejudice. It was a daunting prospect and I was slow reading it at the start but overall, it was a very enjoyable book with splashes of humour throughout. The 2005 film is also worth a watch. The Rosie Project and the Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion are really funny books. I recently read Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’. It was a great insight into her life, the role of the First Lady and her honesty was refreshing. ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ is a heavy book, but it gives some great insights into our journey as humans so far and what things may look like in the future. Finally, ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a spectacular book with very interesting and diverse characters. Other books I recommend include ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz,’ ‘This is going to hurt,’ ‘Quiet,’ and ‘To kill a mockingbird.’ These books have all helped me see the world with a new perspective and tackle important issues and life experiences. I have felt the full range of emotions reading them and I appreciate the variety by having a mix of fact and fiction.
As Descartes says “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest people of the past centuries.” You get to meet wonderful characters from different backgrounds. Dr. Seuss keeps it simple by revealing “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Reading can take you anywhere and there is always something new to learn.
Overall, I think reading is a wonderful hobby but it definitely requires patience, calmness and the willingness to persevere. It will be worth it when you discover a book that becomes an event in your life.