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A Passion for Reading

Text by: Kerstin Engelhart

My favorite author, Astrid Lindgren, most famous for her Pippi Longstocking series and is the world's 25th most translated author, once said her childish soul was vibrated by her first book, and these vibrations haven't stopped ever since. I feel the same way. The best gift that has ever been given to me is a passion for reading.

Some people love to rummage around in bookstores. Some love to open a new book, sniff all its promises, and start to read. For me-- I love to go to a library. I love to see all the books stocked up, walk through the aisles, and take a look at all the different books as they whisper to me, finally choosing the best to take home. The greatest feeling comes when I am at home and see all my chosen books lined up together. I feel excited and giddy at the thought of how many adventures lie before me.

My mother told me that as soon as I knew how to read, I didn't want her to read to me anymore. I preferred reading by myself. It took too long for her to read a story and I wanted to know what happened much more quickly. I can also read anywhere and always read until I fall asleep. As a child, I didn't need to even use a flashlight. My parents accepted that I had to read at night, even if it was very late into the night, so told me that I at least needed to turn on a light so I wouldn't ruin my eyes. Even today I sometimes fall asleep while still holding a book in my hands. When I wake up again, I return to my book right where I left off.

So how does one benefit from finding a passion for reading?

© Jessica Ceason Photography

Most importantly, it will help you with your language. You not only learn grammar and spelling, but you learn about the periods of time where the story takes place, as well as many different writing styles of different authors. You will learn about experiences, places, and traditions you might never meet in real life.

It strengthens your fantasy. Many people say that while reading, they see images in front of their own inner eye. When J.K. Rowling, infamous author of the Harry Potter series, was asked whether she now sees Daniel Radcliff, the actor who plays Harry Potter in the movie version of her books, as what Harry looks like, she answered that she still sees her own.

Q: When you write the books now, do you see the actors from the movies, or do you see your own characters?

J.K. Rowling: My own characters. Every time.

Q: Their faces don't infiltrate your head at all?

J.K. Rowling: Not at all. I still see my Ron, I still see my Harry, I still see my Hermione. I was writing them for too long before the films came out for the film images to displace what's in my head. I was lucky in that sense. I'd lived with these characters so long, it just couldn't have any effect. Occasionally I will — Ron/Lavender, I did kind of think of Rupert. I mean, it was always planned that way, obviously, but I would kind of emerge for a coffee break and I might have a wry smile about Rupert."

I, personally, hardly ever see images in front of my own inner eye, but I feel the sentiment of a book. I cried over Matthew Cuthbert's death, fell in love with Mr. Darcy, and can identify with Inspector Lynley.

In the end, the best benefit you will glean from devouring a book is the adventure inside. You will be able to experience others' lives, and find joy and entertainment. You'll also find diversion and comfort. What could be better to do on a rainy, Saturday afternoon other than cuddle under a blanket and dive into another life? There are a few books to which I can return again and again, and after a few pages, I become calm again.

As a child, I used to say that after having finished a book I had "emptied" it. When I read, I personally absorb the story and forget my own life. The story consumes me. And when I have finished the book and come back into the real world, I still feel and relate to the story, the characters and the adventure.

So which kind of books would I advise one to read? I heartily agree with Oscar Wilde when he said, "There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all." I wouldn't be able to narrow it down to recommend a specific genre. I enjoy reading all different genres, from detective stories to period novels, children's books, fantasies, thrillers, and biographies. Sometimes, I even choose books based solely on the title, the blurb, or the recommendations. Once I even chose a book because of its beautiful cover (compliments to the designer). All I need is a good story.

So, now I challenge you to find your own passion for reading and empty your own book!