Why Reading Books Is Good For My Mental Health | Reading As A Form Of Escapism | Getting Lost In An Authors Words.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Reading. Something so simple but an act which can transport me to another world, just like when I watch a film at the cinema, I am totally lost to the story and the characters. I love how each book is so completely different and can take you on a journey to somewhere you wouldn't normally go to or necessarily want to visit. Of course some of these places aren't real but that doesn't mean they are any less exciting or you're going on less of an adventure. 

But what I love most is when a book is based on a country or a town, county or village which I may know. If I have never been there it can give me wanderlust like I've never known it, wanting to immediately finish the book and catch the next train, bus or plane to that particular place to see if the descriptions of it live up to what I see with my own eyes.  

I love visiting my local bookshop and browsing the available titles. I know I have enough books already but this one sounds right up my street, nobody would notice if I added to my ever growing and largely unread TBR pile would they?! But this does mean that I have many differing types of books for all sorts of moods - in fact I can sometimes have up to 3 books on the go at once, such is the compulsion to read them all! 

As a blogger I can sometimes be sent books to review which also adds to the pile but are usually the ones which get read first. What I love most about this is being put in touch with the authors who bring out a series of books which I absolutely love. Just like film sequels, all the same characters are there but going on a different adventure, be this setting up and running a cookery school or a newbie chef trying her luck with Youtube and failing

When I find an author and style of writing I love I go with it, as can be seen by my large collection of Judi Picoult books. I have almost every single one as I discovered her many years ago and was instantly hooked by her style and the themes of her books. This is why books are so amazing, each and every single one is so different and there's literally a book for everyone. Although some people may love the same authors or similar genres, I can guarantee they are not going to find similar parts of the book as good or as interesting as their friends or family. Everyone interprets books differently just as they would a film, this can lead to interesting debates and conversations as you sit around and discuss them at your local book club or just with friends who have read the same one. 

When reading a book I am forced to concentrate for the time I'm reading, to follow the words on the page. To follow the characters and how the story develops. If the book is particularly captivating then I want to devour it as soon as possible, to sit for hours at a time until it is all over. Car journeys, train rides and flights are great places for me to be able to do this in peace, to shut out all background noise and be totally enveloped in the book I am currently reading. It is all I can think about until it is finished. Sometimes it is the only activity which demands I put down my phone and don't constantly refresh my feeds to find something else to distract me.

I love the feeling of finishing a great book with a satisfying ending, one which you hoped would happen but weren't sure the author would allow. The kind of ending which makes you fall in love with reading all over again, one which makes you want to share it with everyone you know and get them all reading it. A book which will keep you coming back again and again to re-read it, creating a well thumbed tome which will be passed around friends and family, each eager to discover it for themselves. There is no better feeling than passing on a book you have loved and have them love it too, it makes me so happy whenever this happens. 

Just like the much loved titles of childhood, there are books which mean more than simply the words inside or the outside cover. They are like buoys in a wild sea, reading them can make you feel safe and take you right back to the comforting womb of childhood where nothing scary ever happens and there are always adults around to sort everything out and make you dinner. These books will be cherished like nothing else and passed down from generation to generation, in the hopes they evoke the same feelings you too felt upon first reading. 

Being read to was one of the biggest comforts to me as a child and a memory I hold very dear to me as an adult. My Dad would always do the bedtime routine and read to me from a variety of books, the soothing sounds of his dulcet tones would help to drift off like nothing else. He would make up stories for me about my vast collection of stuffed animals all going away on adventures together, flying out of my bedroom window on a magical carpet ride. Although these weren't tales from a book they are still very real to me and I would get so excited whenever they all went off for their new adventure. 

I think it's so important for children to understand and get a love for reading books as early as possible. To have their imaginations probed with stories of brave knights and princesses. To be allowed to make believe in anything their heart desires and allowed to express this through writing stories of their own. To have their favourite stories re-read to them over and over again as it just makes them so happy and sends them off to sleep dreaming of being a character in it themselves. 

To develop a love of reading is to give yourself permission to dream and imagine, to be able to escape whenever life gets too tough, to completely disconnect from real life and expand your horizons by reading about far away lands, history and perhaps Greek mythology. 

Whatever genres of books you are interested in, I urge you to re-discover your bookshelf and TBR pile. Your imagination and your mental well-being will thank you for it. 

Love, Sarah

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