“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live,” wrote Gustave Flaubert.
When we read to live, we immerse ourselves in the book we have chosen.
We get lost it in. We explore new worlds, and we live thousands of lives in them. We discover ourselves in the pages. Do you read to live?
Here are five superpowers you’ve gained if you do:
1. The Power of Eternal Wisdom
– A reader has their own experiences to draw wisdom from, just like everyone else does. However, through the pages, they also inherit the life lessons of Atticus Finch, Anne Frank, Severus Snape, and many more. A classical lesson applied to a modern problem can be very effective. A reader can draw from experiences much different than their own in a way that a non-reader never could. Readers have a store of knowledge that stretches far beyond themselves. They have access to wisdom that is not available in their daily life.
2. The Power of Engagement
– When we choose to watch TV or play video games, our minds disengage. While escapism can feel pleasant, it weakens the brain in much the same way that inactivity weakens the muscles. Reading helps us to escape in a different way. Rather than disconnecting entirely, we disengage from our own problems and reconnect with a new world filled with strange and wonderful people. Reading requires us to tap into our imagination, linguistic skills, and critical thinking. Our mind remains active, rather than passive. This strengthens the brain, just as exercise strengthens our muscles.
3. The Power of Self-Improvement
– A clever reader knows that one can find self-improvement outside of the self-help section. While books like these can be valuable, they are not the only reading material that helps us to grow. In the biography section, we can become closer to those we admire. We can take a look into the heart of an immigrant, or the soul of a revolutionary. In the travel section, we can escape to Mongolia, or learn about the people of Peru. A seasoned reader knows that when we choose our books, we are choosing to nurture a part of ourselves.
4. The Power of Conversation
-A reader always has something to talk about. Their books inspire them. Their wealth of experience stretches far beyond their own life. We do not only boost our linguistic skills when we read. We also cultivate a greater knowledge of the world and a stronger ability to relate to others. We are capable of a deeper insight when it comes to understanding those who are much different than ourselves. A reader can connect more effectively to those who are harder to reach.
5. The Power of Self-Awareness
– In learning about others, a reader cannot help but look into themselves. How do I fit into the themes of this book? Am I like these characters? Different? Are these traits I am proud of? What choices might I make in this fictional world? Are they the right ones? This process can be alternately inspiring and uncomfortable. As Oscar Wilde said, “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” A reader is constantly examining themselves in different possible worlds. This can bring hidden aspects of their personality to light. It can spark a fire or a passion that they did not realize existed. With every book we read, we become more deeply and authentically ourselves.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one,” wrote George R.R. Martin.
Allow yourself to be transported. You’ll be amazed at what you find within yourself.