As I understand it, today is National Read A Book Day. One of those made-up days designed to commemorate some random thing that we normally take for granted. There are all kinds of days. Days for everything. Some wacky, some well-meaning, but mostly invented for some ulterior motive, such as publicity for a business organization like the American Kidney Bean Growers Association, or the Artesian Spring Council. This day, however, is one that I can get behind. If this day was dreamed up to advocate reading, then count me in as a supporter.
Most of us recognize that reading ability is an important life skill. We need to be able to read street signs, product labels, financial and medical paperwork, and other life essentials. But, National Read A Book Day goes farther. It places value on the type of reading that goes beyond utilitarian purposes. Whether fiction or non-fiction, novel, essay-collection, political screed, biography, scientific treatise, or some other format, people read books for a variety of reasons: education, inspiration, escapism, relaxation, titillation. The benefits of reading books are legion. It develops your vocabulary. It exercises your imagination. Most importantly, it gives you perspective. Now “perspective” is a vague word, like “quality,” meaningless until you qualify the term. But in this case, what I mean is that it gives you a more informed viewpoint… on pretty much any subject. You will gain insight into how someone else sees the world, how they communicate, what they value. The more you read, even if you are reading tawdry romance novels, you will gain a broader perspective. But I suggest reading as voraciously and omnivorously as possible. Read comedic novels, read challenging literary works, read philosophy. Read the work of authors who have lived lives unlike your own. Push through some difficult books. Challenge yourself. And sometimes treat yourself. Think about what you have read. Talk about what you have read. Take recommendations. Give recommendations. Build a relationship with literature. You will grow from this activity, and you might even enjoy it.
Incidentally, tomorrow, September 7, is National Beer Lover’s Day. So, crack open a beer, crack open a book, and enjoy!