Yesterday was World Book Day, and this couldn’t be a better time to celebrate books. When the world gives you strife, books can be a huge comfort. As literary professor Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are,” and right now, staying where we are means staying safe. So book gifts could be saviors right now. Here’s why:
BOOKS TAKE US AWAY WHEN WE’RE STUCK
That quote from Mason Cooley is so true. Inside every book is a whole world that’s different from our own. Whether we’re reading non-fiction like Orange is the New Black, contemporary fiction like The Whisper Network, or historical like All the Light We Cannot See, we’re instantly transported to a different world and outside of our own. This is a book gift of the best kind right now.
READING HELPS US RELAX
No matter whether you’re reading fiction or non-fiction, comedy or mystery, getting engrossed in a book takes us out of our own world and helps us forget our worries for a while. In fact, a 2009 study by Sussex University suggested reading could give us 68% less stress.
READING TOGETHER CONNECTS US
Storytime doesn’t have to be for little kids. It doesn’t even have to be just for kids. There’s a reason why people like book clubs. They connect people around a story. It’s fun to read a story as a couple or group and be able to talk about it. Just like it’s fun to compare thoughts after watching a movie together, it’s great to compare ideas about a book. I know a few adult couples who read to each other before they go to bed, and they agree that it’s a wonderful way to connect.
READING HELPS US SLEEP
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had the hardest time sleeping since COVID-19 began its rampage. Worry and fear keep thoughts rolling around in my head and me awake. But when I read, I get more relaxed, my worries are shut away and I start to drift off. If you make this a regular habit, it can also be a sign to your body that it’s time to sleep. The Mayo Clinic recommends reading a paper book, not on a screen, because screens can keep you awake longer. But I’ve found that as long as I have an ebook on dark mode, where the page is black and the text is white, I can read and relax.
READING MAKES US SMARTER
All this worry and home time has the danger of making our brains go to mush. But reading has us covered there too! A study published in Neurology reported that reading keeps our brains sharp, slowing the decline in memory and brain function that usually comes with age. Bonus, working out your brain reading could even fend off Alzheimer’s later in life, according to research published by the National Academy of Sciences.
READING HELPS US RELATE
Right now, we need to work together to survive, and reading helps us relate to one another better. A study published in Science showed that literary fiction especially helped readers better understand other people’s emotions and thoughts.
BOOKS ARE EASY ON YOUR WALLET
Low on funds right now but still want to give someone some comfort? Bonus, out of all the activities we can be doing to pass the time, books are inexpensive and can even be free. A library card will give you access to huge catalogs of free books, and even though libraries are closed, many are still signing up members. But even without a library card, books are less expensive than videogames and most movies. Plus, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you have access to a heap of books for free. Plus for a little extra, you can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited and have thousands of books at your fingertips.
Yep, even now, when many things aren’t easy to get your hands on (toilet paper, anyone?), books are easy to find. Even if you prefer to read print books, most independent bookstores are shipping books, delivering books or offering curbside pickup. But you can also download an ebook with a few swipes on your phone, or even escape with an audiobook while you’re baking or folding laundry. We featured audiobook options in this post. If you like ebooks, there are free apps you can use on your phone. But to save your eyes and have a better overall experience, Amazon has released its latest ereader, the Kindle Oasis. It’s thin, light and ergonomic, has page turn buttons, reads like paper but stores millions of books, works with Audible, and has an adjustable warm light to help you relax even more.
And, you can buy books from lots of retailers. Amazon is the biggest, but we’re all for supporting indie bookstores too, especially right now when they’re working hard to stay in business. A great way to buy books online and support independent bookstores is to shop through BookShop.org. BookShop.org puts a hefty part of its profit into a fund that’s shared between indie bookstores. But you can also use their store locator to choose an independent bookstore that will get the full profit from your purchase. How perfect is that?
Give the gift of escape with these book gifts.
Do you have a book you’re reading right now? Let us know in the comments.