Bill Landau

Bill Landau

For those of us who are regular readers, we can't really imagine life without books. There are so many benefits that I can only assume the non-readers either think they don't have the time, or perhaps they simply have not been told what makes books so great. So here is my shot at what makes reading so wonderful. Also, because non-readers are probably not reading this library column, perhaps you should snip it from the paper and slip it into the hands of someone you would like to turn into a reader.

First of all, reading reduces stress...unless you are reading a Stephen King book or some other thriller! The tension you feel reading a book that is keeping you on the edge of your seat normally gets resolved in the end, so it won't leave you hyped-up when you finish. But most books are a gateway into a mind escape, where you can immerse yourself in a story that often takes away the anxiety that daily life and work can bring. It gives your brain something else to think about and if you have a really good book to read, you will find yourself looking forward to the time when you can sit, relax, and just read.

My second reason to read is it allows you to escape to locations you have never visited...or, it can also allow you to revisit places you are familiar with. I just read a great story that took place in Paris and I just loved hearing all the details about the cafes, the art galleries, and the hilly cobblestone streets of Montmartre. Having been there myself decades ago, the book brought back such wonderful details that I probably never would have thought of again had it not been for the author's descriptions. I also recently finished a dramatic book that took place in the Russian Ural Mountains...a place I will surely never visit, and now I don't have to because I have experienced it in my reading.

A third reason to read is it can boost your empathy for people who are different from ourselves. I particularly love a good biography for this sort of insight into what it is like inside another person's head. I have learned so much about different races, countries, customs, and beliefs that I never would have realized on my own.

Reading is also a great mood booster, and it does wonders for your imagination. Finishing a book provides a feeling of accomplishment and gets my brain in a space that is so different than my real-world obligations. Reading has become my "happy time".

Lastly, reading does amazing things for your "noggin". As we age, our brains need this stimulation to stay healthy. Engaging in a book not only helps you improve your memory skills and empathy, but research has shown that it makes us feel better and more positive about life in general. Not only that, but reading has been proven to help with depression and reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

In conclusion, what we have here is a win-win situation! Now all that is left is to get out the scissors, snip out this column, and get it into the hands of someone you know who could benefit from an escape into a book.

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