Let’s start with a question: When was the last time you read a book with a story? When was the last time a great plot carried you away so intensely that you couldn’t stop reading? I’ve always read a lot. I learnt to read when I was six years old, and since then I’ve continued reading. I was taught to read every night even a few pages before falling asleep. I still do that, but not that regularly anymore and it’s a shame. When I was a child, I used to go to the local library and spent an hour there listening to stories that were read out loud. Before I used to read all kinds of books, but nowadays I’m a bigger fan of crime stories and stories with strong and developing characters.

Over time books and reading, habits have changed. There were times when publishing books was strictly controlled, and the plots were checked in case of inappropriate content at the time. Now there are every day published world-widely books, that many years ago would have been strictly forbidden.

The way of reading has changed too. At the time of electronic devices, there are apps for smartphones and tablets, and a virtual library can be carried on everywhere. Nowadays necessarily people don’t even have to use their eyes for reading, but they can listen to audiobooks while going to work, exercising or cooking. I personally like reading paper books more, but I have to admit it’s very handy when I have the possibility to read anything I want whenever I want.

However, paper books will always fascinate people. It’s just not the same to hold a cold tablet device and swipe pages instead of holding a real book. How it feels in the reader’s hands, what is a smell in it. How the reader can swipe pages and hear the silent rumour of rustling paper. And, of course, it’s visual look on the bookshelf! I often work as a babysitter in different kind of families. Luckily, I’ve noticed that despite the fact that adults may read less, and tablet devices have become common, at least they are reading to their children! While kids are listening to stories, they are developing vocabulary, improving imagination and
the most important – creating a routine! Kids become familiar with the idea of reading, and it may help them succeed in school too.

The world has changed. People are focusing on performance, there always has to be a clear goal to concentrate on. This has also affected my reading. Sometimes when I read fiction, I feel I could be reading something “useful” instead of literature where “I can’t learn” anything. I could use the time that I use for fiction for studying biology, physics or maths. For students, it may be also easier just to look some series instead of reading – obviously because they have to already study and read a study from their books all day long! But for an office worker after staring the computer several hours, reading could be a way to give
eyes a moment of rest from blue light. While reading literature there may be a thought that it’s not giving any new information. But reading is more than just learning. Probably while reading Jane Austen or J.K. Rowling it’s not possible to
learn the equations of Newton or the structure of cell biology. But during the process, there are still things that can be learnt! Maybe they are not as clear as learning the equations of Newton, but they are the thing that develops the mind’s ability for empathy, the theory of mind and critical thinking. So, by reading
literature, the person is able to show more empathy and understanding to others too. Reading literature effects also creativity develops the ability of concentration, creates inner peace by calming.

My high school maths teacher encourages students to read also other books than school ones. He says; “Only by reading literature, especially fiction, you can understand the world.” I think he’s got a point. So next time when you are close to picking your phone up, try to read a book. Or even listen, but try not to scroll your phone. Try to calm your mind and focus a moment. In the beginning, it may be hard, but as soon as you get back on track again, you’ll remember why books are so fantastic! I promise.

Miisa Korvenaho

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