My story starts out this way: When I was still a kid, my parents brought me to a library in Saudi Arabia and there I discovered the magical world of books. From talking animals to heart-stopping adventures, I devoured every story, gasped at each twist, and loved and hated so many fictional characters as if they were real ones.
But aside from teaching me better writing, critical thinking, and making me look smart by default whenever I have a book in hand, books gifted me with so many other things that I am grateful for.
Books gave me companionship.
We all have our ups and downs, and usually in my downs I just want to stay at home and read a book.
And books get me through those terrible days. With books I don’t really feel alone. I’m with the characters in their journey inside this wide, imaginative world, I know, feel, and understand their thoughts and emotions and what they’re going through. I know it’s only fictional, but in that moment I’m immersed in a book it’s very real to me, and when it ends I feel like I’ve just come home from a very real adventure, and the world is never quite the same again. Even if it’s a short escape from life, I already feel a bit better.
Unless it’s the first in a series and ends in a cliffhanger, of course. Then I just scream and yell and violently wait until the release of the next book.
Books kept me away from dangerous vices.
Aside from books keeping me company, books also kept me away from vices such as smoking, doing drugs, or alcoholism (although I admittedly had my fair share of drunken moments because college, man). I admit that if I didn’t have books I might have done those things instead. I know I’ve been tempted sometimes but never actually tried it.
Because instead of searching for those vices to relieve my stress, I reached for a book because I knew they were there for me. Reading gives me the same feeling of escapism from troubles, and at the same time I learn new words, get immersed in a new story, and keep my imagination alive and well.
Well, technically, I’m addicted to books. But that’s not really wrong, is it?
Books taught me awareness.
When you’re a reader, you get into the minds of the characters in that book. And if the character is written particularly well, then you can relate to them and learn to care about them. And that’s part of what makes books so important. I may not be the same race, gender, or nationality of the characters, but I can feel the things they feel, I understand the things they go through, I see the humanity in them and realize, time and again, that we are all the same. We are all people with thoughts and insecurities and emotions and beliefs, and when I think of it that way, it’s easier to accept and welcome people as they are. And it’s easy to fight for their right to be human beings when people treat them as less than that.
Unless you’re a Neo-Nazi. Then you can get out of my planet, please.
Books made me dream.
I have a hyperactive imagination. Whenever I see something I end up coming up with a million possibilities in my head, of different beginnings and endings and everything in between. And I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong; in fact, I believe it’s great to nurture that imagination because it turns into creativity, and then sometimes, something great comes from it.
Books keep that creativity inside me active. I can draw and create things because of the books I read. I explore new avenues in my own writing because books inspire me to. And most importantly, books told me that it’s okay to dream because sometimes I can turn that dream into a reality.
Books made me a better person.
There are books that entertain, frustrate, or make you laugh out loud. Then there are those that strike a chord in you and then suddenly you’re not the same person anymore. The words in those books mold you into someone better. Books taught me how to love, and how to continue on loving even when you’ve just lost someone else’s love. Books opened my eyes to issues of race, tolerance, and things that are worth fighting for. Books reminded me that no matter who I am or where I come from, I can make the world a better place in the best way I know how.
Words have power. That’s why books hold an immense power over their readers. And, if written just right, if written in a way that strikes at the core of millions and millions of people, books can just change the world. I know they definitely changed mine.
How have books changed your life? Let me know in the comments below!