On books, readers, and finding comfort in dark times

On reading…

You’ve been there before.

There are days when you don’t really want to get out of bed. And sometimes these days come closer together. Maybe you don’t like your job. Maybe you are going through a breakup. Whether that’s a family member, a friend or a lover, it’s possible a loved one is no longer in your life . But it just might be that you are going through a rough phase. It’s alright. We’ve all been there.

When I was around 10, there was a special book I called friend of mine. Whenever I had an unpleasant day at school, or had a fight with a friend, I would curl up in my bed. I’d get A Tree Grows In Brooklyn on my lap and start reading. Somehow, it made me feel better. Somewhere between getting away from the real world and getting lost in another one, I always seemed to start feeling better.

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“What do you do with an idea?” By Kobi Yamada

“We read to know were not alone.” C.S. Lewis

It’s not always something simple like a sad day. And books are not the ultimate remedy for everything. But starting a new story, or even revisiting an old one, has a magical way of making me feel better. I do, indeed, as C.S.Lewis wisely said, feel less alone. I meet characters that think he same way I do, feel what I feel – or maybe I feel what they feel- and, in the process, I realize that I am not alone in what I go through.

Sometimes you just need a different perspective. Sometimes you need to get away from it all and return with a clear mind and have a fresh start. Other times all you need is to feel that someone else has been there before, and things might just not be as bad as you imagine them to be.

For some people, music does the trick. For some others, books do the job. Whatever the reason, pick up the book. Get lost in another world. Give it a try – the possibilities are endless.

Remember that somewhere out there, there is another reader going through a rough phase. Somewhere out there, a writer has put in paper what you feel, has made a story out of what you happen to be going through. And maybe, just maybe, they have something to say that will help you go through it.

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Reading companions are always a big help. Sirius the cat

If all else fails, connect with the readers

Remember that readers are usually highly empathetic people. When you read, you tend to see other people’s perspectives, which also helps respect different reactions and feelings. If you find the need to connect more, keep inmind that literature is not just about the books .

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This is the bookstagram post that lead to a wonderful conversation
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On books and readers…

A while back I asked the Bookstagram community about reading. I felt down, and sad, and a bit frozen in place, as if my life was moving no more forward to the point I wanted it too.  So, I reached for fellow readers and asked one simple question: “Why do you read?”. I was surprised to find some incredibly beautiful answers:

“I read because I like reading (it) relaxes me. It takes me to world in certain books. That the stories are interesting because I get a glimpse into another person’s life.” – @bookwormbelle27

“I read because it allows me to live a thousand lives. It allows me to see the world through different perspectives. To travel in time and distance. I read because its part of my life. Can’t imagine my life without books.” – @moodforbooks

“I read because sometimes this world is too much….” – @ a.mind.needs.books

“It is such a stress reliever and re-energizer!” – @notes_of_a_book_dragon

“I read so I can take a break from being me” – @popsicle_doodles917

“…to take a break from reality. […] And sometimes books actually make me appreciate what I have now, and teach me not to take some things for granted”. – @alinasreadingcorner

“I read to escape reality for a while” – @welshbookdragons

And my absolute favorite:

“For me reading had always been a promise. The promise of adventure and love, that even ordinary me could be special in another world or for another someone. It was the promise that even the saddest stories can have a happy ending. Reading was me living a life both better and worse than mine. Nowadays I read to be enchanted, to be in another world, to feel when I don’t wan t to feel my own emotions. To cry for another so I won’t have to cry for me. To be touched or angry or sad.” – @Booksofhopeanddreams

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It’s all in the community.

I always say that readers are the introverts you want in your life. They listen, they (at least try to) understand, they empathize. Should you find yourself in a hard time, should you need a person to talk to, find a fellow reader. Talk and be heard. Listen to what they have to say. You might just find what you need in order to get through your hard times.

Footnote: A very big thank you to all the bookworms that took part in sharing their reasons for reading with me. You can find these wonderful people on Instagram and follow their bookish stories.