A couple of days ago, I saw a random post on Instagram that went something along the lines of:
“Why watch Netflix or read books when you can go out and watch a beautiful sunset?”
Unfortunately, I can’t find the post right now to show it to you, but it had hundreds of likes and comments by people who stressed the importance of going out instead of “lying on your couch with a book or your laptop”. The truth is, besides being reminded of why I avoid social media, I felt personally offended by that post and even more by the comments underneath it.
I mean, when did staying in with a book became something people judge? Why is going out considered better than staying in, and why do introverts who prefer staying home still receive so much crap for it?
Don’t get me wrong. I do like going out. I do love sunsets and anything that has to do with nature. It’s just that, if you ask me, 70% of the time, I’d rather stay home and read a good book than go out to watch a sunset, no matter how beautiful it is.
Here’s why I differentiate from 90% of the people around me.
#1. Reading a Book Speaks More to My Soul
“Books may well be the only true magic.” — Alice Hoffman
Most people say that nothing can be compared to sitting on the beach and watching the sun setting. There’s just something about those colours in the sky that makes them feel calm and peaceful.
Well, that’s exactly how I feel when I’m reading. Reading simply speaks more to my soul. After I read a few pages, I instantly become more calm and relaxed. I forget about my problems and worries, and, for a while, life doesn’t seem so complicated.
Of course, I’m not the only one. According to this article in The New Yorker,
“Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm.”
Some people find walking in nature and watching the sky to be a form of psychotherapy. And although I love walks in nature, for me, psychotherapy means opening a good book and getting lost in its pages.
#2. Every Time I Read, I Learn Something New
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” — Margaret Fuller
Sure, sunset is an incredible thing to look at and can help you calm your thoughts and put your mind at ease for a while, but does it teach you something every time you watch it?
Because a book can teach you something new every time, you open up its pages. What your surroundings can’t teach you, a good book can. Everything you read can fill your mind with new information and knowledge — which you never know when might come in handy.
For example, you learn a lot of valuable life lessons from a fictional character's experiences. You learn how to focus and dedicate yourself to something (since reading a book requires concentration). You learn the art of critical thinking.
The more diverse and complicated a book’s characters are, the more they teach you how to be open-minded and empathetic. And let’s not forget that by reading a book, you expand your vocabulary, and consequently, your language skills.
#3. I Can See More of the Diverse and Vibrant World We Live In
“Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.”― Jeanette Winterson
Let’s be honest here. Even if I had thousands of dollars sitting in my bank account and plenty of free time, I still wouldn’t be able to see all the world and visit every country on this planet.
And even if I were the most social and extroverted person (and I’m far from it), I wouldn’t be able to get to know various people from different cultures and see how they think and behave. And frankly, I’m not the only one. Most people don’t and will never have all the money, time, or energy needed to go on a trip around the world.
Books let you travel through the world and allow you to explore new lands and cultures without leaving your home. With the help of a book, I can visit new places, meet new people, see other points of view, revisit the past and take a peek into the future.
#4. Reading Strengthens My Writing Skills
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”― Stephen King
I understand this doesn't apply to everyone, but in my case, as a writer, I always search for ways to improve my writing skills.
And reading is a wonderful way to strengthens them. In fact, I’d say that reading and writing are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other.
The more you read, the better a writer you become. Reading provides you with new viewpoints and new perspectives while offering you inspiration and writing ideas. It also allows you to study different writing styles and learn new words and phrases that can significantly enrich your writing.
Now, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a workaholic, but if I can combine doing something I love (reading) and becoming better at my job, I would choose that any time over going out.
To Sum It Up…
I think the reason that Instagram post affected me so much is that I feel like it’s high time we stopped telling people what to do in their free time. Everyone can do whatever they want and go out or stay home as often as they want.
As far as reading goes, it escapes me why someone would tell people to read less. Books are a gift. Reading is a gift. Being able to sit at home and read with a book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other is a blessing.
So, yes, I’d rather read a book than watch a beautiful sunset, and I don’t think anything’s wrong with that. If you’re a bookworm like me, keep on reading. Keep losing yourself in a book’s pages. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.