Read All Over

Did you know that reading can relax you in under six minutes?

That’s right. You can put down the bubble bath and candles. Although, not those bon-bons. You should keep eating them to deal with the crisis you are going to have while reading The Fault in Our Stars.

Thankful for its magical healing properties, I’ve taken to reading at any point during the day. In the morning, right before bed, even when someone has something written on the back of their shirt and I’m standing right behind them. I can’t stop, and I won’t stop.

But it does make me feel a little bit guilty. Because when I’m home and reading, I’m usually sprawled out on the couch, in sweatpants, warming myself by an open fire (but not too close that I burn the pages and never get to read the end). I’m all relaxed and consumed by the book when it suddenly crosses my mind that I could be working on just about anything else. My novel, my self-esteem, my laundry. In fact, reading gives me a guilty feeling that television may never provide: it’s usually a solitary activity. It makes me feel downright selfish for blocking out the world when I should be participating in it. And I don’t mean to glare at people when they interrupt me, either. It just sort of happens.

However, you should never, ever feel bad for reading. You should actually never feel bad for anything that makes you a better person. Because reading does. As I mentioned, it decreases your stress. But it also increases your vocabulary. It makes you understand someone else’s perspective, even one so foreign to your own. It gives you more things to think about and talk about. In fact, reading a book in public is like an invitation to someone else to connect with you on a common interest (unless it’s Fifty Shades of Grey. You may want to back away slowly if you see someone reading that.)

But best of all, reading is the easiest and cheapest way to get from point A to point B. You can fly halfway around the world and never feel as at home as you do reading a favorite book. And unlike even the best travel destination, you can visit it anytime you want, from anywhere.

Like life, books can enthrall us and enrage us if we let them. More like life, we need to see books to the end, no matter how terrible. We may never know what kind of ending they have in store.

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