Read between the lines: 3 reasons you should pick up a book

Read between the lines: 3 reasons you should pick up a book

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Okinawa

Editor’s note: At Stripes Okinawa, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at okinawa@stripes.com.

 

For many of us, reading and the importance of doing so was instilled early. As children, our parents and teachers motivated us by reading to us, encouraging us to pick up a book and do it ourselves. In fact, they even made it into a competition to see who could read the most amongst our classmates.

As adults, how often are we practicing this prized activity meant to bring us joy and intellectual growth? One of the things quarantine has given me was a reminder of my love of reading on my downtime. Reading has many advantages that go beyond “winning” a reading contest or passing the time, and the advantages are immediate.

Reading gives you time to yourself

In need of some alone time? Reading is probably one of the best ways to schedule in some. Reading is versatile and can be a group activity especially when you’re reading to others, but there is nothing quite like the time a solo reading session affords. When you pick up a book, you are essentially giving yourself, and those around you, a clear signal a desire for alone time. What I personally find most interesting about this phenomenon is that reading on your own seems to bring the library’s calm environment into wherever you are. For example, for the most part, when people notice someone is reading, there seems to be a mutual agreement to keep voices low and respect each other’s privacy as one would inside a library.

Reading is an escape from reality

Just as reading allows you some time to yourself, it also can provide an escape from the physical reality. As a kid, I loved the challenge that would come with filling out reading logs for my local library during the summer. I would set the timer for half an hour every day and let myself become captivated by the characters and scenes that unfolded with the turn of every page. I think this is probably best visually illustrated in the Narnia commercial that used to play on television where a child sitting on a train opened up a book and then was suddenly drawn into another world, in this case, into the land of Narnia. I can certainly relate to that experience! When I read, I can easily find myself getting caught up in the drama and wonders of a book and forget all about the world around me.

Reading is a way to connect with others

Lastly, social connection is another benefit I have found from reading. Even under the strict social distancing measures, the simple act of reading can unite us. For example, at work I noticed my colleagues took to reading books on their down time. Eventually, reading led all of us to create a system of sharing books until we’d all read a particular one that we could discuss. We accidentally created our own book club! Nevertheless, the fact that we all picked up reading as a hobby essentially connected us both indirectly and directly to one another. Indirectly, the act of reading allowed us to interact subtly, respecting each other’s privacy and need for quiet; directly, reading ultimately sparked conversation not only about the books we shared, but also the deeper meanings behind the stories shared by the authors.

While reading may not be for everyone, I cannot deny the benefits it has given me. Whether we actively practice reading now, we all grew up learning about the important role literacy plays in society and in our daily lives. Whether by book, newspaper article or online, for school, for work or for fun, reading may open a few doors for you. I hope you consider these reasons mentioned above before turning away from reading. You never know where it may take you!

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Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018 and has been on the island for over a year. During her free time, Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is an alumnus of the University of Central Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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