To read or to read? — When it comes to reading for fun, there is no question

For a majority of my life I have admired the written word. When I was little, I would grab a flashlight, hide under the covers and spend the entire night reading. As I’ve aged, not much has changed — except the hiding aspect.

Reading books helps people to imagine many things which they wouldn’t have ever dreamed. Creativity is something that I feel increases every time I read a new book. Reading convinced me that my feet did not always have to touch the ground.

Through novels, I learned about worlds outside of my own — not in location or geography, but rather in the way people exist and live. I was able to learn about cultural standards that are drastically different than the ones I knew.

When someone continuously reads books with new information, they start learning and experiencing different things, and they begin to have an increased understanding of the world around them. People are able to start seeing things in a fresh, innovative way and in turn, their point of view changes. In fact, I can say, it improves.

Through reading, I was able to see into the minds of those suffering from mental illnesses or dealing with tragedy. I learned about war and violence and about love and hope. Literature expanded my knowledge and exposed me to things that were so unfamiliar to me that I otherwise would never be able to comprehend.

The act of reading in turn makes the reader into a better writer. By reading I learned more words than in any class, conversation or video. I learned how to communicate my thoughts in a way that allowed me to explain myself better than I ever had before. The hardest part of communicating is finding the right words to say and where to put them in a sentence. Reading gave me the ability to communicate in an effective and concise way.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 17 percent of the world is still illiterate. Having the ability to read is something that we as a society consistently take for granted. When people read a sign or text a friend, they aren’t thinking about how they developed that skill, they simply know that they have it.

None of us should need a reason to read because reading wouldn’t be labeled with such importance if these benefits weren’t universal.

Literature has given me a passion, a purpose and never ending knowledge.

Next time you are at a bookstore, pick up a novel. Flip a few pages. Read a few words. You are already doing things that 17 percent of our world does not have the ability to do.

We live in an information-based world. It is fast-paced, constantly updating and entertaining. It is easy to put down a book. Turning off your phone? Much more difficult.

Books are not usually considered as instantly gratifying as other sources of entertainment, and as someone who spends way too much time on her phone, I completely understand that. However, ultimately reading for pleasure is not only enjoyable in and of itself, but it is also healthy for intellectual and emotional growth. Some things are worth closing your laptop for.

Reading can send someone to places that they will never be able to go to in real life. Reading can change a perspective and open the mind. There aren’t enough words to describe the benefits of literature.

Feel grateful for your literacy. After all, it’s the only reason you could read this.

Olivia Heersink can be reached at or on Twitter @heersinkolivia



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