Books: Never Leave Home Without Them
In yesterday's blog post, I discussed my work with the This I Believe project. As promised, here is my own This I Believe essay, entitled, "Books: Never Leave Home Without Them."
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with books. I was fortunate to have parents who read to me on a regular basis. Bedtime each night meant reading a chapter or two from the current book Mom and I were reading together—the Little House on the Prairie series and the Anne of Green Gables series were some of my favorites. One of my favorite stories my mom has told me about my childhood was how even as a toddler I was enthralled by books—after unwrapping one at Christmas I would immediately sit down to read and ignore any and all other presents from that moment on.
Our weekly library day at school was my absolute favorite day of the week, and one of my favorite events of the year was the Battle of the Books—a team trivia competition based off of a selection of children’s and young adult books held at my elementary school. I had fantastic teachers who encouraged me to read, and one of my favorite memories from fourth grade was “Read In” Day: an entire day devoted to reading in which we could bring blankets, pillows, a backpack full of books, and read all day long.I was a voracious reader throughout elementary, middle, and high school. Reading for pleasure became more difficult in college with all the required textbook reading for classes, but once I graduated from college I dove right back into reading. I currently set reading goals, write book reviews for my blog, and get immense joy from an evening spent enjoying a book and a cup of coffee. I cannot go a single day without reading—if I do not get to read I become anxious and agitated. The simple act of reading on my lunch break or in the evening is calming and reduces my stress level instantly. The mere sight of a large bookshelf or library has the same calming effect. I can spend hours in a bookstore, browsing the shelves.
I believe the written word is one of the most powerful tools in our society, whether it be in the form of fiction, nonfiction, short stories or poetry . Books allow us to learn about other cultures, ideas, and places, to understand our history, to allow us to relax and escape from the world, and to help us understand we are not alone. Reading allows us to become well rounded, open minded and tolerant individuals. Through reading, we can experience a different time and place without leaving home.
In every book I read, I try to make a personal connection to a character or idea in the book. I try to learn something from the book, even if it’s a fictional story. Through these personal connections, I understand that my feelings are others’ feelings, and my struggles are other’s struggles. I know that as long as I have a book with me I will never be truly alone. I never, ever, leave home without a book in my possession. That way, I know I’ll always have somewhere to go to learn, to escape, to relax, and to find joy. Just like those “Read-In” days in elementary school, I always carry a “backpack” (now a purse) full of books, in case I have a few minutes of time to escape into a world believe in: the world of books.