My parents used to joke that I learned how to read before I learned how to walk. I always found myself immersed in a book, transported to a different world by simple letters on a page. When I was younger, "Harry Potter" introduced me to magic, "Eragon" gave me my very own adventure with a dragon, and "The Tail of Emily Windsnap" let me swim with mermaids.
More recently, "The DaVinci Code" plummeted me into the middle of a mind-bending mystery and "Ready Player One" took me into a limitless virtual reality world.
The list could go on.
Every book I read contributes something to who I am as a person. Books have taught me life lessons and let me escape into a different reality. I think it's incredibly important to read for the simple reason that reading helps you grow; intellectually, mentally, and personally. I was never a fan of required readings throughout middle school and high school. I feel like school can do a poor job of encouraging people to love reading because they turn it into such a chore. Sure, it's important to know about certain classics that have contributed largely to societies or cultures, but that shouldn't mean having to give up reading just for the fun of it. (Unless you happen to love the assigned readings, which is entirely possible).
Unfortunately, giving up reading for fun was exactly what happened to me during high school. I fell out of love with reading simply because my homework was already so full of it. I started spending increasingly more of my free time on social media or the internet because I was just so sick of looking at more words after a night of homework or studying. But, social media had the tendency to stress me out, remind me of my insecurities, and continue to press the problems of my daily life further into my brain.
Finally, I decided I had enough and picked up a book. It was "The Maze Runner."
A copy from my school's library. Simply chosen because it was in the Fiction section and I had heard good things about it. I told myself that instead of scrolling through my phone at night, I'd read at least a chapter of the book. I truly missed the feeling of being sucked into a story and removed from my surroundings.
And that's exactly what happened.
The pages began to fly by, and before I knew it I was devouring the entire series. I was beyond thrilled to have rediscovered my passion for reading, and realized how important it was to have such a break from my phone, laptop, and the world around me. I actually felt a little giddy to be so in love with a book again.
Needless to say, I truly believe that reading should be at least a small part of everyone's lives. Whether it's poetry, fiction, nonfiction, magazine articles, or whatever you enjoy, taking at least 20 minutes a day to relax and enjoy words on a page can do wonders for your mental health. Challenge yourself to read routinely, whether it's ten pages per night, or a book per month. I guarantee it'll be worthwhile.