The therapeutic power of reading books

Reading not only empowers your health and personality, but is also entertaining and rejuvenating

close-up of young woman reading a book
Photo by Rahul Shah from Pexels

Sick of your routine? Worried about your child’s examinations or the interview day after tomorrow? Feeling lonesome? Curl up with a book and tie a knot to your boredom and worries. Believe me, there’s no better panacea to these problems. But that isn’t all. Reading can empower your health and life in more than one ways.

Escape from the grind

When you read, you step into another world, explore somebody else’s life, focus on something completely different from your problems. This shoves away your stress to one corner while you enjoy your book in another. Whether you dive into a sea of fantasy with an engrossing fiction or discover the truths of life in a non-fiction, reading is a leisure activity that is bound to be entertaining and rejuvenating at the same time.

Get comfort and inspiration

Be it an examination, an interview or a medical test, they are all capable of giving you a feeling of anxiety. Reading a book on similar issues can take away a lot of dread associated with them. Biographies and autobiographies of great people, success stories of the rich and the famous, and tales of triumph over adversities become a great source of inspiration and comfort. A good book can strike a chord, reach places that no one else can and provide the much awaited answers. It can soothe a troubled mind and alleviate pain. It can show you ways to conquer challenges in your life. Above all, it can give you hope – just to know that there are others like you – or even worse than you – who have survived turbulent times and emerged victorious.

Reading holy books can bring you close to God and be a harbinger of peace, love, joy and healing wisdom in your lives.

The therapeutic power of reading books

According to DH Lawrence, “One sheds one’s sicknesses in books.” Reading can actually be therapeutic and help you beat the blues. The concept of the interconnectedness of reading and healing goes back to Plato’s time and now-a-days doctors’ use it to their advantage in treating mentally-ill patients. This kind of healing with the help of books is known as bibliotherapy. It is defined in the wikipedia as an expressive therapy that uses an individual’s relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words.

A bibliotherapist with the help of the patient’s doctor prescribes a set of books which are designed specially to allay the patient’s malady. The books give the patients a chance to read about their own circumstances, dramatised by the protagonist in the book in a well thought-out plot. An opportunity to reflect upon their own state of affairs from a distance gives the readers the courage to face life bravely. It is observed that patients who take book therapy are more likely to reduce their medication.

Benefits of reading books

1. Build your expertise

Unless you are an IT expert, there are sure to be times when you need help with your computer skills. It could be with an office presentation or simply a time when your printer refuses to print. With so much to read on IT today, it is not difficult to hone your skills.

I’m sure most of you like to play or follow at least one game for the thrill that it brings with it. But you may not know everything about it. This is where reading comes to your rescue. The same goes for a hobby that you may be wanting to pursue for a long time but didn’t know how to go about. Most women will agree with me that it is not difficult to acquire good culinary skills, thanks to recipe books.

2. Discover yourself

Think you are falling in love? A love story can probably help you understand your feelings better. The headiness that love brings has been written about in umpteen ways and can nourish your soul at a time when you need it the most. It may even unveil the true meaning of a soul mate and assist you in understanding what you want from yours.

Whether you have a grumpy pre-schooler or a temperamental adolescent, there are books to set your parenting skills right. If you are depressed about being overweight, reading a book or two on nutrition, the right diet and exercise can help you identify your problem and address it too. Some books may even help you realise your desires and expectations from yourself and help you choose a career.

3. Enhance your self-esteem

There’s a story behind every war that was fought, city that was established, movie that was made and book that was written. The more you read, the more you learn about the behind-the-scenes account of events. This gives you that extra edge over others when it comes to initiating a conversation and holding on to it. Similarly, reading books on debatable subjects like history, formation of the Universe, and existence of God gives you the patience to treat others’ views respectfully and also form an opinion.

Reading a novel draws you into remembering the course of events which steps up your memory eventually. The knowledge that you gain about different places and cultures cannot be disputed either.

So, being a reader can definitely turn you into an individual with better concentration, language and mental skills and make you popular among your acquaintances. This is sure to step up your self-esteem!

4. Stimulate your imagination

Unlike the visual media, reading does not force interpretations on you. You can understand the author’s point of view better when you read a book by her/him rather than watching a movie made on the book. Books do not restrict your imagination; you are free to read between the lines. They allow you a no-holds-barred view of the text.

Begin today

If you think you can never find the time to read a book, are not adequately inclined to read one, or don’t know which one to read, we have a few ideas which might work for you.

  • Buy a book which is based either on a hobby, art or game in your hot pursuit.
  • Pick up a thin book for yourself in the beginning. Once you’ve finished reading that, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to read more.
  • Join a library that expects you to return books within a certain time. This way, you will at least try to finish reading yours within that period.
  • Call on a bookstore often. Something is sure to catch your eye. There’s nothing better than taking your family out on a weekend to a bookstore that offers reading space where you can relax with a book you like. This will also give you an opportunity to read excerpts from various books and decide which one to pick up.
  • Do keep in mind that all books cannot hook you with their beginnings. You need to read further to get captivated.
  • Fix a comfortable reading area at home. Every time you sit there, you are likely to pick up a book and relax.
  • Read regularly for 15-20 minutes before you sleep.

Go ahead readers, make books your best friends. They won’t judge you, be jealous of your achievements, argue or talk back. Rather, they will be with you whenever you want and never let you down.

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Priti Salian
Priti Salian is a teacher by profession and a writer by choice. Her interests include yoga, health, parenting and social awareness. She lives in New Delhi.


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