Does reading make us happy?

Posted: November 23, 2010 in Books and their issues
Tags: , , , ,
Jester reading a book

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I was reading articles on the BBC website the other day and came across this interesting article: BBC- Does reading a book make us happier?

With all the debate over the future of libraries, you have to question, despite reports saying people use libraries less and less for books, how many people really use them, and how many people enjoy reading a book in a library, the one place where we can safely read a good book for free?

Does reading a book really make us happier? It is no longer a hobby only pursued by the elite rich higher-classes of the past, and now everyone has access to books whether they like it or not. With so many other activities and technologies around us, like TV, the Internet and so on, it is often difficult in our day and age to find time to sit down and read, with most people opting for the easier option of watching TV or surfing the Internet. Printed books seem so detached from the technology that surrounds us, which is why ebooks have started edging their way into this new digital world, in the hope that we will enjoy and benefit from having everything we need in one place.

When i was younger, i was considered to be a right little  “bookworm” and i read pretty much all the time, because it was a necessity to me, like oxygen or food. I don’t want to sound bigheaded but i’m pretty sure i was well ahead of my peers in the reading stages because i had read my way through all the special reading books my school provided, and i was onto the more grown-up books long before anyone else! The thing is that reading came easily and naturally to me, to the point where i was actually writing my own little stories when i wasnt reading. Today, i still find myself all excited when i get a new book and i hurriedly get all my chores and tasks done so i can sit down in a comfy seat (or bed!) and read until i finish the book!

I’m sure everyone has a little routine when it comes to reading a book, and that everyone has some kind of pride and satisfaction when they finish reading a book.

I can say that reading makes me happy, because i can get lost in my own little world and no-one can disturb it. As i read, i see the story unfolding in my mind and it conjures up pictures which no-one else can see, and my brain makes all these links between what i’m reading and my existing knowledge (whether its of events i’ve witnessed similar to ones in the book, or facts that i knew and have just learned a little more about). That makes me happy, being able to connect things, and imagine things, and explore things which i never even imagined before.

Books really make the world go round, but it feels as if the printed book is slowly being phased out.

One thing that makes me sad is that libraries are starting to limit their book supplies because the demand for printed books is less than it used to be, what with ebooks starting to appear on their computer systems.

My university library is trying to get rid of all books which haven’t been checked out in over a year, but is this really a good method of sorting though library books? When i was researching my undergraduate dissertation, i went through stacks and stacks of books, some of which were dusty and hadnt been touched in years! And its these old books which often contained the vital information that i needed to back up my arguments. If all the books which hadnt been checked out in years were thrown out, there’s very little chance that i would have been able to put enough research into my dissertation.

I would be very sad if libraries stopped providing printed books and if shops stop selling real physical printed books. I would probably feel very depressed if i couldnt experience the one truly unique process of reading a book. It would be the end of life as we know it.

How sad would you be if printed books disappeared? Would you miss reading books in libraries? And, most importantly, does reading a book make you happy? I’ll let you decide.

  1. alicely says:

    Thanks for posting the BBC article – it’s really interesting!
    . And yes, reading a book definitely makes me happy!

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