Yes, I know: It probably comes as no surprise that someone from Jersey Library is recommending reading as a pastime!
While these days our libraries offer a lot beyond the pages of a good book - studying, co-working and meeting spaces, public access to computers and informative talks and seminars to name but a few - books remain the bedrock of what we offer our customers, and promoting a love of reading together with its many benefits is something that we are very passionate about.
The following notes about reading apply to any of us at any time, but they are perhaps all the more relevant for the strange times we find ourselves in at present. My hope is that together, they make the case for either picking up a book you already have or finding something new to download and read for free using our online services.
Reading can boost your mental and physical wellbeing
Taking time out of a busy or potentially difficult day to spend a while reading can be straightforwardly beneficial: reading for enjoyment promotes happiness, releases tension and combats stress. There is some research that suggests that even just 30 minutes a week can have a marked effect on our health and wellbeing. It’s been found that reading can also improve our confidence and self-esteem as well as aid our sleep.
In these challenging times, any tool at our disposal that can unburden us of a little stress or worry or help us get better sleep is one we should grab with both hands. Thinking beyond the immediate benefits however, reading is also believed to help memory function help the brain stay strong and healthy throughout a lifetime.
Reading can transport you
With the majority of us mostly confined to our homes for the moment, travelling to other places and exploring other cultures feels like an idea as far and remote as the destinations we might like to travel to. Reading a book with a different setting to our own, however, can allow us to travel - together with the author or the characters in their book - to countries, worlds and times different to our own. A well-written book can often garner reviews along the lines of ‘it felt like I was there’ or ‘I could almost feel the hot, beating sun as the author described the scene’. Our imagination can be seen as living right next-door to our experience, so in those moments where you feel you want to escape the familiar walls of your home, turn your attention to a book and see where it takes you.
Reading can connect you to others
In a similar way to how books can transport us, they can also give us some idea of what it’s like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. There are studies that show that reading can increase our emotional intelligence and empathy, as they help us to understand a range of perspectives and motivations. For many people who might feel lonely or isolated, seeing the world from another person’s perspective through reading a book, can help build a sense of connectedness.
Aside from that, whilst reading for many is a solitary, private activity, it is also something that can connect them to family, friends and other members of the community. Whether they are reading something that a friend or family member has read too, or they enjoy sharing what they are currently reading - perhaps in a book group or in passing conversation - what we experience when we read can bring us closer to other people. Also, for families, reading together with children of all ages is a terrific way not only to connect with one another but to boost a child’s own reading ability and enjoyment.
Making some time for reading
Many of us would like to read more, but it can often feel tricky to find the time in a busy day to set aside for that purpose. For this reason and the ones outlined above, we’re inviting you to join us and other readers across the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands for #ReadingHour on Thursday 23 April, World Book Night.
Between the hours of 7 and 8 pm on that evening, we’re encouraging all of our borrowers to set aside some special time to read, listen to an audiobook, gather the family together for a shared storytime - anything reading-related at all! You might want to read to an elderly relative over the phone, make a start on the biography you were bought for Christmas, or join us in our Big Read of ‘The Truth About Lies’ by Tracy Darnton, available to borrow from rbDigital. The choice of what you do with your Reading Hour is entirely yours, but try making a promise to yourself that you will put that time aside. Who knows, you might end up making it a regular part of your week!
How will you spend your Reading Hour for this year’s World Book Night? We would love to hear from you your intentions and your recommendations, so let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and you might just pass an idea on to someone else!