October is National Book Month, and to celebrate I'd love to pass on a timely reminder: reading is amazing.
Not only does just about every icon credit a love of books with making them who they are today, but science shows a great story fires up your brain in unique and powerful ways. The result is higher EQ, better leadership, less loneliness, and even a longer life. And because such a low percentage of Americans are regular readers, reading is an amazingly easy way to set yourself apart from the pack.
Studies have confirmed all these benefits, but it's not news that books are one of humanity's greatest technologies. Writers, thinkers, and storytellers of all stripes have known it for centuries, and found eloquent ways to express the joy and power of books.
The TED Ideas blog recent rounded up a few of these quotes from their speakers to get you fired up for reading not just this October but every month. Here is a small sample.
- "How do we diminish the distance between us? Reading is one way to close that distance. It gives us a quiet universe that we can share together, that we can share in equally." - from the TED Talk of author Michelle Kuo
- "Stories cannot demolish frontiers, but they can punch holes in our mental walls. And through those holes, we can get a glimpse of the other, and sometimes even like what we see." - from the TED Talk of author Elif Shafrak.
- "Stories can cross the barriers of time, past, present, and future, and allow us to experience the similarities between ourselves and through others, real and imagined." - from the TED Talk of Pixar screenwriter Andrew Stanton
- "We read to get lost, to forget the hard times we're living in and we read to remember those who came before us who lived through something harder," from the TED talk of writer Jacqueline Woodson
But these storytellers are hardly the first to use their gift with words to express the incredible power of reading to change your life and lift your spirits. Fellow writers have been doing it for ages. For example:
- "To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life." - W Somerset Maugham
- "Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant, and interesting." - Aldous Huxley
- "We don't need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don'ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever." - Philip Pullman
- "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies... The man who never reads lives only one." - George R. R. Martin in his novel A Dance of Dragons (part of his A Song of Ice and Fire series, which the HBO blockbuster Game of Thrones was based on).
- "Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss." - from I Feel Bad About My Neck by writer Nora Ephron
- "There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book." - Marcel Proust
- "If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking." - Haruki Murakami
- "I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle." - Kurt Vonnegut
- "Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it." - Jeanette Winterson (Many experts agree with her about the soul-nourishing power of collecting way too many books.)
- "When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, 'Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.'" - Virginia Woolf
- "That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet." - from The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri