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Wrapped up in Books

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

I’m writing this for the ones who call books old school or boring. Throw away that phone and pick up a book instead because books are revolutionary.

For some, reading starts out as a simple hobby, but before you know it, you are borrowing books about how a girl wrote secret letters to a certain Kavinsky in the lacrosse team, diary entries of Anne Frank, history and science fiction. With modern technology, it’s an ever-changing world out there. Everyday something new is discovered, something old forgotten. It freaks me out to think that it’s the same thing happening to books. I fear for this generation, because it’s one where 5 year olds have smartphones on their hands half the day and 20 year olds have to still scream for basic human rights.

I’m writing this for the ones who call books old school or boring. Throw away that phone and pick up a book instead because books are revolutionary. Literature is such a powerful force that even the brightest minds on the planet followed it. Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. He replied, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Books help us to think outside the box just like the meaning of the name of this platform this article has been posted on, ‘Pitakotuwa’.

Yes, it is true with the world moving in a faster pace we are bound to get in sync with the technology used today, but it doesn’t mean we have to cut out that part of ourselves that’s a dreamer. It was found that women read more than men, 19.8 minutes per day compared to 13.2, with men’s reading time decreasing faster than that of women. Maybe that’s why it seems as if women mature faster than men. One study also showed reading reduces stress by 68%, more than listening to music or having a cup of tea. People who regularly read were 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease too. So it can be seen right off the bat that there are many benefits to reading.

Adults who read for 30 minutes a week feel 20% more satisfied with their lives and around 40% of people said that the reason they didn’t read was, ‘being busy with work’. But a recent study shows that people spend 10 times more time watching TV than reading despite being ‘busy’. This also is true to Sri Lankans. A perfect example for one of the busiest countries in the world is China. Neil Gaiman, the author of books like Caroline, was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history ever. He took a top official aside and asked him why it hadn’t been held for so long and what had changed? The official told him that it was simply because the Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they didn’t innovate and invent. They did not ‘imagine’.

As a country that’s still developing Sri Lanka could also make use of this advice. It pretty much sums up the reason why people should be encouraged to read more, and not just books about math and science but books about fairy tales and wonderful stories too. Because books are an escapism to get a sense of freedom, far away from this modern world.

The reason I say that reading overall is calming, is because personally, I’m a distractible reader, it’s like when you put me in a vintage thrift store… oh the glory. Most people choose the most silent place they can find when they read. So as that environment they are in is also calming, its easy to get lost in the pages of a story about some character’s feelings, moments of happiness and their undoing that can happen in seconds. It takes you to a place that alleviates reality.

When talking about reading in Sri Lanka, out of the two large-scale book fairs that take place here, the Colombo International Book Fair is the oldest and largest one, attracting local publishers and thousands of book lovers. When taking into consideration the cost in preparing for CIBF each year, there is no real profit made. But, publishers take part to attain the common goal of increasing readership in Sri Lanka. So, I encourage the youth to go to these book fairs, take part in reading forums, join the local library and educate others about sharing the power of reading.

When talking about the importance of books, limited access to education resources including printed books is a factor that hugely affects the lives of thousands of children in underprivileged parts of Sri Lanka. So as the youth that’s capable and blessed with resources we can pave the way for these kids who are less fortunate. Donating books, being voices to the voiceless can help us change the education system of the country to the better.

I can’t go without mentioning and sharing some books and authors I absolutely loved growing up so that you can give it a go too. ‘A song for Summer’ and ‘The Secret Countess’ by Eva Ibbotson, ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier, ‘Scarlet’ by Cathy Cassidy, ‘Milk and Honey’ by Rupi Kaur, Jodi Picoult books and Jill Mansell books.

To wrap it up, books add colour to what can be a monotonous life and make you a smarter and a happier person. So love, read.

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