Readers’ brains are different. It’s not just a fact, it’s a scientific fact. Studies show that Harry Potter readers are more empathetic and have a better attitude towards marginalised groups, while others prove that readers in general tend to be more intelligent. Yup, your fun, relaxing hobby is making you a smarter, better person. Score!
While these benefits are sweet enough, as readers we know that books touch us even deeper than IQ and empathy. We see the world through a whole different pay of X-ray specs thanks to our books and here’s how:
We Know Who The Bad Guys Are
When we were kids, bad guys only existed in our books, but as we grew up, we realised they were everywhere. They might not hurl fireballs or cast curses, but the bad guys in our world will still happily take away the rights and assets of people without the power to oppose them. In our books, the bad guys do all the same things, just with a little more flair. As they both star in our entertainment and our real lives, we readers are adept at weeding out the bad apples in our societies and thanks to our favourite protagonists, we know how to deal with them.
Our epic battles might be cooler with wands, but many of us do our bit by signing petitions, attending protests and supporting the oppressed. It might not be quite as we pictured saving the world, but this is how we kick the bad guys’ butts!
Readers Find Wonder in the World
Our little blue-green rock can be a depressing place to live at times, and now is one of those times. But as readers, we find wonder in every little corner of the world. We are the ones staring at the butterflies when they land on our arms, and losing our breath when we stand on the top of a mountain.
There’s a difference between seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses and noticing beauty when it’s there. As readers, we have a knack for it. Not everyone sees the Earth in all its glory, and for that, we can be truly grateful.
We Know Our Problems Can Be Solved
I can’t be the only one who’s been told: “Real life isn’t like what happens in your books. Not everything has a happy ending.” Anyone who has read even a few books will know they don’t all end happily, so, checkmate!
We are entirely capable of understanding the difference between fiction and reality – hell, we have to do that just reading the news sometimes – but our optimism that everything can turn out OK doesn’t come from naive, blind faith. The characters in our books don’t sit about and hope the threat to them will go away. Can you imagine what would have happened if Harry Potter didn’t go looking for the horcruxes? Avada ke-freaking-davra.
The characters in our books work their butts off to ensure the enemy goes down. Our faith isn’t invested in miracles, it’s in ourselves. Sometimes we might fail, and that’s OK, because so do our characters, so does everyone. We are under no illusion that we have to work hard, fail and try again to solve our problems, so that is what we will do.
Reading can make a problem solver out of anyone, so invite these critics to a good, long reading session, and watch the pessimism melt away – OK, that might be blind faith!
Once upon a time, reading novels were acts of the devil and symptoms of hysteria – oh yeah, you could get thrown into an asylum just for reading the blurb. These days, we recognise that reading doesn’t just improve our intellectual abilities, but our emotional well-being. Thanks to books, we can see the world in a brighter light, while still tackling the biggest issues affecting our societies, and isn’t that just a perfect way to live?
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