Rediscover the Fun of Reading
by John Murzycki
An unfortunate fact of today’s lifestyle is that people spend little or no time reading books. If that includes you, you’re not alone. Reading habits have declined, with many not finishing a single book last year.
As a fiction author, this disturbs me, and not because I want you to read more of my books (although don’t get me wrong, it’s one reason I write). No, this is not a shameless promotion. Instead, consider it a public service announcement about bringing more joy to your life.
Look, it’s not easy. Books require a commitment that many people believe they just can’t make. You probably have a million other things to do in your spare time: movies to stream, social media feeds to check, doomsday scrolling... you name it.
And even if you pick up a book, is it the right one? Any book you find will have some negative reviews. What if those reviews are correct, regardless of the many other five-star reviews? Should you take the chance, especially since the time commitment to finish a full-length novel is considerable?
My response is yes. Don’t worry about unfavorable reviews. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s opinion does not equate to your unique preferences. Moreover, gatekeepers should not determine our reading choices, whether they be other reviewers, big publishers, or Amazon’s recommendation algorithms.
For me, the secret to the art of reading lies in returning to a time when you were a child and had become lost in a book. Think back to one of the first books you read. The emotion you felt, the sense of wonder and excitement. Or maybe you experienced the delight of discovering something new and unexpected. At a young age, reading was a way to learn about the world around us and escape everyday life as we entered the realm of make-believe (at least for a little while).
As adults, we often search for ways to reduce stress and anxiety in our lives. Meditation, yoga, and exercise are all popular activities, as well as they should be. But what about the simple joy of reading?
I believe it can be as effective as any other stress-reduction activity. In my humble, unscientific opinion, people who read more long-format literature can better understand others and are more open to different viewpoints. Reading both fiction and non-fiction exercises your brain and allows you to appreciate other sentiments and situations. You may find yourself able to sort through information more effectively.
All are noble reasons to read, but how do we squeeze it in with everything else? I’ll give you a hint; it doesn’t happen by wishing for it.
Life is a series of choices; reading takes commitment and a willingness to stay with it. The good news is that in today’s world, it is easier than ever. Physical paperback books, eBooks, audiobooks, free books from libraries (which have gone online, in case you didn’t realize it), and book subscription services are all available. You can use your phone to read a chapter rather than view the latest TikTok video. Or you can listen to an audiobook while commuting or cleaning the house.
What made you fall in love with books as a child? Use that to fuel your excitement. Not every book has to change your life or be educational. Give yourself permission to be that child again, at least while the book is open.
Remember, as with everything else learned in life, it takes an open mind and practice. But once discovered, the results can be life changing.
Murzycki, a Wrentham resident, is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novels are available online at all major book retailers. Visit johnmurzycki.com to discover more.