Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Benefits of Bibliophilia

or: Why It’s an Advantage to Have a Wide Reading 

The complaint that people don’t read anymore is often heard these days. Certainly it’s true that with all the new media books have lost popularity. To many books seem old-fashioned and environmentally questionable, be it their paper or their electronic version, be it fiction or non-fiction. And the sullen odour of school that they have about them for a considerable number of people shouldn’t be underestimated either. More importantly, however, our time has become so fast paced that any text longer than a paragraph or a page at most has become an ordeal to read because it requires more attention and concentration than many of us are willing or able to summon up. 

None of the above has ever been true for me. I always take my time for reading. I’m a born bibliophile or else it wouldn’t make any sense to write a literature blog, would it? And I’m glad that I’m such an avid reader because I get so much out of the books apart from the mere pleasure of getting involved in an intriguing plot. Every book is the key to an inner world of wonders that would otherwise be lost. I’m a rather introverted person and consequently it’s always fascinating for me to be allowed to slip into the head of somebody else and to witness all those strange thoughts as well as emotions that might never ever have come into my own mind. It doesn’t matter that characters and events in the books I read rarely are real – they are authentic enough to broaden my horizon. 

Books help me to better understand the world around me and myself too. In real life I’m often at a loss, especially when I need to deal with extraverted people who sometimes make me feel like an alien cast away all alone on this planet. In earnest. It happens quite regularly that I wonder why people right in their minds act and talk the way they do and not always can I ask for an explanation. Reading novels allows me to get to know from the inside all kinds of types, introverted, extraverted, crazy, clever, average,... Probably, it’s even the better way of studying them because authors use to concentrate on typical traits of a character instead of losing themselves in depicting unimportant or even confusing shades. Without books I could only rely on my own common sense and experience. 

Another advantage of books is that they make it easy to travel to other cultures and to learn about them as well as from them. They raise awareness and understanding for people who have a different cultural background which becomes all the more important as globalisation advances. If we like it or not, society is changing as it always has been. As human beings we tend to close our eyes before such developments because we are afraid of what we don’t know. Books can help us to be less fearful, more open-minded and more sensitive to the needs of other people around us – provided that we make a good choice and don’t just stick to writings that glorify our own traditions and thoughts. Books can help us not just to face reality, but also to deal with it. 

It’s my firm opinion that if we don’t read books anymore, we cage ourselves in. Our minds may still be filled with millions of facts from the internet and yet we may know nothing worthwhile about the world and the people in which we are living because in a way we content ourselves with looking at small details without knowing (or even being interested in) their grand context. 

May authors never cease to write books!

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