Books are my best friends. It might seem strange to say that, but if you’re a literature lover, you’ll know what I mean.
Rather than going out, often you’re happier curling up with a good book, and even when you are socializing, you must force yourself to partake, countering the urge to retreat to a quiet corner and continue reading.
Frequently, you find yourself drawn to second-hand bookshops like a moth to flame, browsing for hours in aisles of dusty books that are piled precariously to the ceiling in a jumbled maze.
For me, this predilection started early.
For the love of reading
I was lucky – my mother was an avid reader, and she passed her love of books onto me at an early age.
I remember being absolutely captivated by my first novels, suspended in time, absorbed by the storylines.
This early interest blossomed into a passion, and soon I desperately awaited the arrival of new books, pleading with my parents for another installment.
Partly, that was due to growing up in the country, and not having access to an immediate social group. Like any child without many playmates, I frequently became bored.
Fortunately, books were the perfect escape, transporting me to another world at the turn of a page.
It all started with adventure novels and the brave exploits of protagonists’ venturing forth and discovering new lands, a symbolic feeling for a child limited in location and mobility.
Indeed, I think this early reading was the impetus for my eventual international travel and the urge to explore far-flung destinations, going off-grid and chasing adventure.
How can books be your best friends?
Often, being bookish is synonymous with introversion, and I feel that even if it’s not causational, there’s a correlation.
Literature lovers, while able to socialize effectively, often feel drained by the encounter and require solitary time to recharge.
More often, they might prefer to socialize one-on-one, where attention is undivided and not overly dispersed.
There’s also a certain observational quality in those who enjoy reading.
Instead of playing the extrovert at the center of attention, you may prefer being on the edge and looking in, analyzing social interactions and exchanges.
Such social fatigue is real, and is one reason why many readers prefer spending time with their books to other people.
However, such tendencies need not be negative. Indeed there are many benefits to regarding books as your best friends. Let’s explore them.
8 benefits of book friendship
Some people might find book friendship to be a slightly odd phenomenon, but there are incredible benefits to welcoming reading into your life.
1. Books increase our emotional intelligence
The sensitivity of bibliophiles towards excessive social interaction seems to frequently lend itself to increased empathy.
Indeed, perhaps literature is the perfect vehicle for developing such emotional intelligence, as readers sympathize with characters of varying backgrounds, dispositions, and motives.
Some of the best writing challenges you to adopt a more tolerant mindset, forcing you to understand even its most despicable characters.
Such sensitivity can’t help but transfer into everyday interactions.
2. Books help us understand ourselves
Reading widely can help us get to know ourselves better.
Listen to your literary preferences and the types of books you enjoy consuming.
Be cognisant of the characters you resonate with, seeing how their actions might be mirrored in your own life.
Often, authors use literature as a vehicle to impart important life lessons, either inspired by reality or to magnify some of the best and worst traits of humanity.
Exposing yourself to these themes helps develop your worldview, creating a personal creed, perspective and values to live by, which evolve over time as we age.
3. Books are inspirational
Good books are incredibly inspiring. Depending on your chosen genre, you could either be motivated creatively to pursue arts projects of your own, or driven towards another form of personal development.
If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’ll know that I’m keen on nonfiction and in particular, self-help books.
One of my favorite reads is a book by David Goggins, an ex-Navy SEAL, pull-up world record holder, and ultramarathoner.
His message of resilience in the face of adversity is a potent reminder to overcome our personal obstacles and his message continues to motivate readers to strive toward personal growth.
4. Books impart knowledge
Books are a repository of human knowledge, distilling the most important lessons for the benefit of our society.
Literature, in its long history, has been responsible for transmitting its teachings by expanding on the capacity of the individual brain to process knowledge by storing it in a portable, semi-timeless format.
Reading allows us to travel to distant lands and learn about other cultures, all from the comfort of our living room.
In this way, hard-won skills and knowledge from previous generations and other societies coalesce and compound, and we as a species, progress.
This benefit has only magnified in the digital age, where we now have any book we could ever want at our fingertips, downloadable in an instant.
Whether you live in a land of opportunity or a developing country, access to literature really is a shortcut to cognitive development and future potential.
5. Books improve physical and mental health
Just as we benefit from spending time with flesh and blood friends, reading books has a profound impact on our physical and mental health.
Indeed, reading from a young age has been shown to assist adolescent development, staving off cognitive decline in later life and helping us live longer.
Research also shows that reading also enhances the quality of our lives, providing a vital antidote to stress and allowing us to sleep more soundly.
As you can see, while socializing with fellow humans is still vital, reserving time for books is just as crucial.
6. Books are non-judgemental
Many sensitive people are drawn to books as, unlike humans, they’re non-judgmental.
Perhaps you feel intimidated by the expectations of others and falter in the face of performance pressure.
In such instances, it’s liberating to retreat into the world of literature, where there are no demands and you can simply be yourself, whether you feel sad, lonely, or vulnerable.
7. Books are constant companions
Humans are fallible creatures, driven by emotion. One moment, your friends might be happy with you, while the next, they may become angry.
One moment you could be in a loving, supportive relationship, while the next minute, your spouse could leave you.
One instant, you could have a close family, and the next, you could be struck down by bereavement and loss.
Books, in contrast, are constant companions, supporting you through thick and thin, providing their own unique form of therapy.
8. Books are an escape
Sometimes reality is just too much. Work deadlines, bill payments, family commitments…
The minutia of life can grind us down until we feel completely drained. This is one reason why books are our best friends.
Whenever we’re emotionally overwhelmed, reading offers the perfect respite, allowing us to retreat into a fictional world, relieving all the pressure of our hyperconnected lives.
So, the next time you feel burned out, try relaxing and re-nourishing in the fantastical world of books.
Books play a vital role on an individual and societal level.
Not only do they help shape our cultural advancement, but they also provide a vital method of personal development.
So my advice? Make friends with books.