Why you need books in your life : 8 reasons to dive into that story!

pizap.com14422303004011Books have been one of the most popular forms of entertainment ever since printing was invented. During the last decades, however, there has been a significant decrease in the percentage of the reading population, along with a decrease in the hours of reading per week. According to studies, the main reason appears to be lack of time, along with the distractions of modern age. It is, for many people, a lot easier to sit and watch a movie or play video games than to engage in a good story. Whatever the reasons, however, for a lot of people, books will always be more than a hobby. It is a part of an everyday relaxing routine. And these are some of the reasons book will always be our best friends:

  1. Entertainment…of course!

Probably the most important reason to read. Literature is one of the most popular forms of entertainment. A book is easy to carry, it can travel everywhere in your bag, and each one is a different, exciting new story. It can also be (relatively) cheap, since you can find a lot of books really cheap on- line in the form of e-books, plus you can find free e-books from online libraries. And let’s not forget the traditional way of access great stories for free- lending libraries.


  1. Reading enhances your imagination

There are many ways to set your imagination in motion; there is one, though, that will make your imagination run wild: Books! Reading is a means of time and space travel. Seriously. Think about the last time you read a good story. What did the hero look like? Where were they? Do you remember the sounds and smells? Although all writers will set some basics for you in their stories, most of what you remember is of your own making; this is partly the reason movie adaptations of books almost always fail to come up to your expectations. The same story can be read by a thousand people, and if they had the means to make it into a picture or a movie for you, you would end up with a thousand different pictures. And the more you read, the more things your imagination creates. All in your own, unique way of thinking.

  1. pizap.com14422300706521Mental Stimulation

As any other muscle of the human body, brain needs its own form of exercise. Studies have shown that activities that assist in staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. A new research, appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found elderly people who regularly read or play mentally challenging games are 2 ½ times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Stress Reduction

Whether a fan of fiction, psychology books or children’s stories, reading time helps you fight of stress. Studies have shown that reading just before going to bed is one of the most helpful ways to relieve yourself from stress. Even reading a newspaper or a short scientific article can distract the brain enough from everyday problems.

  1. Gaining Knowledge

Every book you read is a new piece of information. It might be a scientific book, which can be considered pure new knowledge, but it can also be a fiction novel; knowledge is manifested in more than one ways. The style of writing, the vocabulary, even the story itself is knowledge, since it can provide you with different perspectives. Reading books is an essential part of learning new languages, as you gain exposure to words used in context, thus improving your fluency.

6. Reading can increase your empathy.


Do you find relating to other people’s emotions hard? Dive in a good book. Studies have found that reading can enhance our ability of relating to others, understanding their emotions, even helping. Literary fiction in particular is very helpful; reading about other people’s perspectives and feelings will familiarize you with what others are thinking or feeling.


  1. pizap.com14422301282511Reading improves your writing skills

Exposure to well-written work has an effect on your writing. , so if you are interested in writing and want to improve, reading can help you. A good book can enrich your vocabulary as well as your style of writing, so go ahead and grab a book!



  1.  It is the second best way to understand a culture

The first, of course, is direct contact. But when that is not possible, books can be a lot of help. Imagine, for example, wanting to learn more about Egypt and its culture, but not having the means to travel there and meet it firsthand. The second best thing is a good book about it. It can be a language book, a historical one or literature from that specific place. Whatever the specifics, books will always be your little helpers!

National Medal of Arts awarded to Stephen King.

On Stephen_King,_ComiconThursday, September 10 the American president Barack Obama honored 21 organizations and individuals on the sector of humanities and arts.Among those who received a medal was writer Stephen King, who received the National Medal of Arts  for combining storytelling with analysis of human nature. According to President Obama, “one of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature .For decades, his works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy have terrified and delighted audiences around the world.”


Stephen King, aged 67, began writing while still in school. The first of his stories to be independently published was “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber”. In 1973, King’s first novel Carrie was accepted by publishing house Doubleday, and he has since published 54 novels and  written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections. Along the multitude of awards won through his life are Bram Stoker AwardsWorld Fantasy Awards, the O. Henry Award and British Fantasy Society Awards. In 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  He has also received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (2004), the Canadian Booksellers Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America (2007). Movie adaptations of his novels include IT, The Shinning, Misery, The Green Mile, Salem’s Lot and more.

It_coverAlong with being a successful and prolific writer, King  is also involved with charity. He donates approximately $4 million per year “to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment, schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts.”The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, spends over $2.8 million in grants per year, according to The Grantsmanship Center. In November 2011, the  Foundation donated $70,000 in matched funding for families in need Bangor, Maine.


According to Stephen King when asked why he became an author, “ The answer to that is fairly simple-there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories and I love to write stories. That’s why I do it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do”. How about retiring?  “Not yet. I’m writing but I’m writing at a much slower pace than previously and I think that if I come up with something really, really good, I would be perfectly willing to publish it because that still feels like the final act of the creative process, publishing it so people can read it and you can get feedback and people can talk about it with each Salemslothardcoverother and with you, the writer, but the force of my invention has slowed down a lot over the years and that’s as it should be. I’m not a kid of 25 anymore and I’m not a young middle-aged man of 35 anymore-I have grandchildren and I have a lot of things to do besides writing and that in and of itself is a wonderful thing but writing is still a big, important part of my life and of everyday.”

Good Omens: When an angel and a demon screw BIG plans up..badly

GoodOmens_MassMarketPaperback_1185845373“25 And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying ‘Where is the flaming sword that was given unto thee?’
26 And the Angel said, ‘I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down some where, forget my own head next.’
27 And the Lord did not ask him again.”  – Good Omens

The plans for the arrival of the Antichrist have been set in motion. Heaven and Hell are both aware and waiting for the big day, the last day of earth. But what happens when the demon who’s been charged with taking care of the little sweetheart  messes up big time? The Antichrist ends up on the wrong family, and Mr. Demon asks for help from an old angel-friend.

This is one of the most hilarious books you will ever read. Lots of characters mix up, plenty of running is involved, and a respectable dose of irony and black humor is present everywhere. It’s one of those books you can’t set down once you’ve started reading. The characters are intelligent and humorous, especially our demon friend Crowley, and the dialogues will set you in tears..in a good way.

Good Omens is co-written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, masters of the fantasy genre and both greatly respected in the world of literature. The two authors have fanatic readers, and getting to know other works of them will give you a good reason to become a fan yourself. The book has been a great success ever since it was published in 1990, winning   awards  such as the  Mir Fantastiki Special Award for “The most anticipated book” (2012) and nominations for Best Novel (Locus Award, Best Fantasy Award,).  In 2003 the novel was listed at number 68 on The Big Read. A mini series adaptation of it aired on BBC Radio in 2015. A lot of rumors exist about a film and a television adaptation of the novel, but so far they haven’t been implemented.

cover-good-omensFor more information there is a site called Good Omens Lexicon (http://goodomenslexicon.org/), whose contributors have done an amazing job creating a “character map/lexicon” in order to guide you through the characters. Although the book is straightforward enough and you will have no problem remembering them, I have found that after reading the story it is a very fun page to roam around.

Should you read this book? Definitely, provided that you have a sense of humor and you are not one of those people that do not tolerate humor around Heaven and Hell. Are you a Neil Gaiman or a Tery Pratchett fan (or both)? Then if you haven’t spotted the book yet, you should. Immediately!

The Time Keeper

TimeKeeper_cover_front-There is a reason why God limits our days


-To make each one precious


A teenage girl wishes time would run faster so that she can she her crush sooner. A middle aged cancer patient wishes time would slow down so that he doesn’t have to meet his death so soon. And Father Time listens.

As the story unravels, you meet Dor, the first human being to understand the concept of time. But along with the realization came the obsession, the invention of the clock, the withdrawal from more important things in life and the anxiety about minutes, hours, days  passing by.

Never before have I come across a story that shows so accurately that the concept of time can be very dangerous if not handled well.  Through the thoughts and actions of the  protagonists  you can see your own thoughts about time, and whether you always want more or you wish it would run faster, there is always a part of your life you end up losing.

A story slowly and carefully paced, you do have to be a patient reader, but the realization will hit you in the end. The story of Father Time will make you wish clocks had never been invented.

The Casual Vacancy: Another side of J.K. Rowling

The-Casual-VacancyBeloved- by- all  Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother’s sudden death is a major shock for the small community of Pagford, UK. There is now an official Casual Vacancy; a vacant seat on the city council, and a lot of people are going to fight over it…by any means necessary. Two “armies” are created, two opposite camp grounds, fighting over a seat on the city council, and therefore over the determining vote over the troubled area of “The Fields”. However, the candidates soon find their deepest, darkest secrets published on the Parish Council online forum and their lives are turned upside down.

Drugs, politics, false prudence, domestic violence, communities’ failure to protect their citizens are some of the major themes of the novel.  Rowling proves that her talent is not limited in the Harry Potter series. This is not a happy book; it is not supposed to be one. If you are looking for a light-hearted story with a happy ending, it is not the book for you.

This is a painfully accurate story as far as small communities, social problems, and the human nature are concerned. A story that makes you think more deeply, and reminds you that sometimes we forget even the basic aspects of humanity.


casual_vac_bbcThe Casual Vacancy became the 15th best-selling book of 2012 during its first week of release, and  later won the Best Fiction category in the Goodreads Choice Awards of  2012.  In 2015 it became a mini series produced by BBC, and, in my opinion, it is one of the few novels that was so accurately transferred into the screen.


The Night Circus: Dark, Bittersweet, Magical

Night Circus


“We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams from place to place”

Imagine a circus that mysteriously appears at night; one that is so extraordinary, it looks nothing like any other you have ever seen. Imagine opening your eyes in front of its gate at midnight, listening to its great black and white clock chiming, the smell of caramel pop corn in the air, the place full of black and white tents ready to welcome you into magic. This is not a mere description. This is what it actually feels like when you open Erin Morgenstern’s book. And it is just the beginning.

Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, is a circus that appears from place to place and only opens its gates during the night. It’s a wondrous place: each tent contains a different kind of illusion… or so the guests believe. There is more than meets the eye in the Circus of Dreams, and powers stand behind it that normal people cannot imagine.  Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, raised and educated by the best Victorian Era magicians, have stepped into an ancient game of Magic with the circus grounds as their stage.

One of the most exciting books of its genre, besides its fascinating tale, its romance, and, above all, its magic, what drives you into it more than anything else is that what you read draws you into the story as if you are already there. You can smell the caramel apples, you can hear the clock chiming. And the tents, the wonders inside… it is as if you are there! Morgenstern’s unique way of describing every detail of this fantasy world helps the reader dive into the book and become one of the circus’ guests.

It is a dark story, yet it makes you realize that hope can arise through any situation, help can come from people you would never expect, and betrayal from loved ones you never thought were capable of it.

Uncle Montague’s Tales Of Terror OR How I slept with the lights on

chris-priestleyEdgar loves visiting uncle Montague; his house is out in the woods, he always has tea, and the best part of spending time with him is the story time.  You see, the interesting thing is, uncle Montague always has the best stories to tell, and every one of them is as spooky as can be. But are they just stories? Or is Edgar about to find more on his latest visit?

Chris Priestley’s book is rated age 7+, which means a seven year old can read it, but I’ll admit I’m 29 and some of these stories scared me to the point of having to turn the lights on at night in order to move from one room to another. Most of them are very well written and based on the element of the unknown. Not the bloody-gooey type of writing, so if you’re a fan of that type of stories, this is not the book for you. This is atmospheric in a way an old black and white horror movie from the sixties would be, which is what makes it more than a children’s book, along with the beautiful illustration by David Roberts.


It’s well written, short enough as not for the reader to get tired, long enough to satisfy your hunger for night time scary story reading. Give it a try!

Brownies and Broomsticks…. And other magical recipes!

browniesandbroomsticksGreat. Now I want to be a witch, and I also want a peanut butter brownie. And maybe opening a pastry shop like Katie Lightfoot would be nice…

Katie Lightfoot is a 25 year old woman that starts her life over in Savannah, Georgia, after a bad break up, with the help of her aunt Lucy.  This happens to turn into quite an adventure, as she learns that she is a witch, meets two very interesting men, and has to solve a murder case. All in one month. Wow. I wish my life was that exciting.

The title of the book does not disappoint; the story is indeed a Magical Bakery Mystery (in all ways possible, it is full of baking, magic and a quite intriguing murder riddle), and as far as the brownies…well… spoiler alert: you’ll find a great recipe for them at the back of the book. Personally, after finishing the story in one day, I am about to shop for  the ingredients and give it a try.

Brownies and Broomsticks is the first book of the Magical Bakery Mystery series. So far the series consists of five books, all bearing quite amusing titles, such as Bewitched, Bothered and Biscotti . To anyone interested in mysteries, magic, and a large dose of humor, I highly suggest giving the books a try – I am already in the middle of the second story and determined to not sleep enough for the second night in a row in order to finish this one, too!

The book of Kells: The famous 9th century Gospel Book is available online!

imag0023As a fanatic book reader, one would have thought I have known all about the Book of Kells for ages. However, what actually drew my attention towards it was a 2009 animated movie called The Secret of Kells. The story unravels around a gospel book  in medieval Ireland, which allegedly had powers to change the life of anyone  reading it ; it was called the Book of Kells.

The Book of Kells (or, as known in Irish, Leabhar Cheanannis) is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book written  in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament . Its place of origin is not certain; it was created in a Columban monastery in either Britain or Ireland, created around 800 AD. What distincts it from other gospel books of its time is that it is considered a masterpiece of Western calligraphy. Its method of construction is impressive on its own: it was written on processed calfskin, which was time-consuming to prepare properly but made for an excellent writing surface. Of its entirety 680  pages have survived, and of them only two lack any form of artistic ornamentation. Nowadays, the Book of Kells is regarded as one of Ireland’s most important national treasures.

Nowadays the manuscript is on permanent display at Trinity College Library, Dublin. Besides being very well preserved, what is really important (and exciting) about this, is that the University’s Library has now announced  that the Book of Kells in now available in its entirety in the Library’s Digital Collections online repository. According to its announcement, “The Book of Kells transparencies, originally captured by Faksimile Verlag, Lucerne, Switzerland in 1990, have recently been rescanned using state of the art imaging technology. These new digital images offer the most accurate high resolution images to date, providing an experience second only to viewing the book in person.” As if this piece of news wasn’t exciting enough, an iPad app of the Book has also been created and is available online, with added functionality.

For anyone interested to learn more about this treasure, the Library of Trinity College of Dublin is an excellent source of information, and it is also the place to download the app or vie the book online. For any of you that is interested in both books and travelling, if by any chance you find yourselves travelling to Munich, Germany, I highly suggest you take a visit to the Deutsches Museum, where you can find a detailed exhibit about the Book of Kells, along with a (newly) printed version of it – I guarantee you won’t regret the visit!

The Book of Kells as exhibited in Deutsches Museum, Munich