I have a confession to make.
I have forever been ashamed of myself for liking books, especially during my teenage years. Reading was a boring hobby and reading was not cool, I would tell myself that – all the while borrowing loads of book from the library to bring back home to read while on semester breaks during university. It took a lot of courage for me to come out that I love reading, what more advocating this love that has shaped me since I was young.
Since I became more open about reading, I find more people just like me on social media. People who get excited at the thought of reading, the sight of books, the joy of being alone to read. Naturally, I was hesitant with people but with time, I realise that this bunch of people are genuinely reading and loving books.
I have met them personally and I meet them regularly as they have scheduled book discussion (you can check them out here, The Classics Challengers, a KL based book reading group) but knowing that there are people who exude the same energy with you about books, is priceless.
So here are three common traits we share (me and other fellow readers) that I have observed and come to love. And I believe this is what happens when you read.
READING BENEFIT NUMBER 1: YOU SPEAK FLUENTLY
Have you met a person whose hobby is reading that could not speak fluently? That said, if a person claims to read a lot but can’t piece sentences together – this is a tell-tale sign for the benefit of doubt. A person who reads might not have the loudest voice in the room but when the person speaks, you would notice that his/her idea flows easily. Sentences simply roll out from their tongue because reading has trained the person’s mind to express an idea eloquently.
Our train of thought undergoes a practice of sewing word by word that forms sentences, all the while undergoing an overarching practice of building cohesiveness of facts that forms a story/manual. The underlying practice of reading gives you the ability to zoom in and zoom out in your mind, building a bridge between your speaking self and your thinking self.
One might argue that this might not be apparent in all readers because we need to also take into account of one’s shyness, stage fright etc – speaking in public takes practise. But could you deny that readers can write their speech well and with practise, can speak well?
READING BENEFIT NUMBER 2: YOU ARE LESS JUDGEMENTAL
If there is one way for you to feel and understand how a hungry person could kill, you need to read lots and lots of fiction. I am not saying that a person who reads would totally understand something beyond normal comprehension, but I strongly believe a person who reads would be less judgemental. If you had read A. Samad Said’s Salina, it would change your perception about prostitutes because reading the book had opened your mind that things aren’t always as it seem.
Reading provides a great channel to get under the skin of its characters, a great way for you to delve into the lives of others. This is true provided you choose to read from reputable authors. The depth of description an author creeps into his/her book is a skill to hypnotise readers into focus and pulling the readers into a different reality. What other way could give us have an idea of what it is like to be a woman in a country at war, if it weren’t for the books like The Kite Runner and I Am Malala? Notice how cartoons from Datuk Lat in Kampung Boy always take us back to the lush green ‘kampung’, sometimes I could even hear a stream of river in my head when I read the Kampung Boy!
Having such book in your hand and being sucked into the pages leaves you imprinted in your mind that you have felt such experience. With vast reading comes the vast experience of characters you felt and read about, allowing you to relate and empathise better with people. When you empathise better with those around you, you become less judgemental and you inevitably seek for WIN-WIN for all parties.
READING BENEFIT NUMBER 3: YOU ARE NOT AFRAID TO BE WEIRD
Reading by the load exposes you to a plethora of ideas/characters and a person who reads will tend to pick up books that uphold their personal ideals. When you feed your mind with your idea of how life should be lived, backed by the myriad of books that support it, fear ceases. You are not afraid to live and show the world what you are made of. That said, a person who reads does not mind being called weird because really, who would want to be just one of the rest?
In a world where our kids are shaped by media streaming on their gadgets, don’t we want our kids to practise their ability to imagine adventures like Tom Sawyer, to imagine mystery solving like Sherlock Holmes, to imagine the magical world of Alice In Wonderland, to imagine survival skills like in Robinson Crusoe – in the unbridled, unlimited capacity of their brains? Rather than being influenced by unlimited projections of confidence from strangers, don’t we want our kids to be influenced by their own projection of confidence that is built within them?
I hope I haven’t been too weird that it dispelled your interest in reading. LOL. In all honesty, coming out with my love of reading and deciding to build a website dedicated to encouraging people to read was MY BIGGEST FEAR. I guess I reached the tipping point of reading and I knew my purpose on earth is to make people read better stuff – one person at a time.
Now, I would like to hear from you. Have you ever felt ashamed or less than yourself because of your preference? Let me know in the Comment section below, or you could reply to my email if you subscribe to The Baini Mustafa Weekly Email. If you wish to become a subscriber to receive updates from me to your Inbox, you may do so here.
With that, stay healthy and safe – REMEMBER, the world needs you and your ideas. So don’t shy away from conveying your ideas effectively.