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Why I read ? 
May 3, 2015
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“ Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different. We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation.”  – Neil Gaiman 

If there’s something positive that has come out of the current events in Benghazi it’s having more time for reading.  As an extreme reader I get asked a certain question I can’t completely answer. People are always asking me why I read. Living in Libya where not a lot of people read, most people are curious why I would spend my free time on this activity. My motives for reading remain obscure even to me,  but I know  reading to me is to exist .

If you want the cookie cutter answer that most people give I’d say it brings me pleasure, enjoyment, access to new information. It allows me to savor the existence of time as it passes. Reading lets me escape my own reality into someone else’s world; I can run away from whatever is going on around me. These are what I call the obvious reasons.

The real question you should be asking is “what benefit does it bring “ask me about the satisfaction I get from this activity. To me literature is a method of time-traveling. It’s an adventure. When it comes to literature, rewards are guaranteed, I promise you. Even the second or tenth time you read a book you discover something different, it can still surprise you.

Through reading, you expose yourself to new worlds, new information, new ways for solving problems, new situations. Reading helps you see things from a different perspective which improves your understanding of people and situations around you. It helps you to communicate better. Most of our problems in the Libyan social and political sphere come from not understanding different perspectives. People refuse to put themselves in other people’s shoes. My solution is giving them a book.

Reading takes you to places, ages and parallel worlds with dragons, kings and adventures you never knew existed. Books can conjure up a magnitude of emotions. You can react differently to a book depending on who you are, what you are reading and how your life is shaping up at the moment you’re reading it.

A book can trigger feelings of pain, enthusiasm, contempt, apathy, empathy, depression, hilarity, happiness, or heartbreak.

 “No two persons ever read the same book.” ~ Edmond Wilson

You experience emotions and situations you might never encounter in real life but still manage to shape you as a human. Reading is an individual act; it’s a sense of connection. Even if it engages you in the mind of author and characters, nothing makes you more aware of yourself than reading. You make memories, tastes and beliefs that are unique. I read somewhere that reading is a silent conversation, but you bring something into this conversation too. Your attention, your thoughts and reflections are all part of this conversation.

If after all this you still think “reading is a boring activity “then you’ve been doing it wrong. The more you read the happier you’ll be. The act of reading is also a form of therapy, something we all need as Libyans. It’s also much cheaper than actual therapy.

So buy more books, their effect lasts longer than makeup. The alternative for real books for those of us who live in a third world country currently at war are eBooks.

We’ll make sure to provide a list of books to read for you on our next article, maybe even start a Project Silphium book club for women? Would anyone be interested, give us some feedback in the comments.   
 
Written By : J.E 

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1 comment

  1. Excellent piece.
    Unfortunately, reading is an unusual practice in our Libyan society, which is a very bad thing, I can’t live without reading, and I find myself alone in this, (or it’s what I feel), since most people around me don’t read. Reading is important for your personal growth, gives you information that makes you think in different way, help you understand the world much better.
    Reading is so entertaining for me, because I have such a vivid imagination, reading is much like traveling to different countries, knowing knew people, living in a different era, it’s like living another life, make me forget about the war & the choas aound me.
    Finding books is a struggle here in Benghazi, the few libraries that we have sell mostly old books and in Arabic language only, you can’t find the new valuable books, I’m always asking myself: Why there aren’t any books in English or in French language, I know during Gaddafi era selling foreign books was banned, is it still banned?
    Fortunately the internet provides access to many ebooks.