A babushka reading a book was depicted on the front of the flyer. “If you don’t read books, you will forget how to read,” the flyer said in Russian.
I was in my senior year of college when I came across the flyer and I had no interest in extracurricular reading assignments. However, I am frequently reminded of that flyer and how important books are.
Not only do books increase our vocabulary and writing skills, they give us perspectives that articles (even such as this) cannot.
The smartest people I know are voracious readers. They read novels the way most people binge-watch television on Netflix. A significant portion of their income is spent on novels and magazines. They read hundreds of books each year.
A book requires a lot of attention that I am seldom willing to forfeit.
Simply sitting down and reading even for 30 minutes sounds like a painful chore.
Seriously. Who has time to sit down for 10 minutes and not do anything? We are always moving and on the go, and if we aren’t, we beat ourselves up for slacking.
Thankfully, there are ways we can get around this.
There is an incredible app for smartphones called Overdrive that I recently discovered, thanks to West Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Luis Interiano.
Overdrive allows users free audiobook downloads for their smartphones. It’s easy to use and there are all kinds of genres available. All you need is a library card to access it.
I just recently finished a memoir called “Hillbilly Elegy” this week and now I’m onto my next audiobook, “Citizen of the Galaxy,” a sci-fi novel about slavery and civil rights.
Audiobooks on Amazon can be two or three times as expensive to buy than their print counterpart, and Overdrive is completely free.
Overdrive also offers ebook downloads if you prefer to read instead. (Although, I much prefer printed books when it comes to reading. I read “Moby Dick” on my smartphone a couple years ago, which was torture. Turning a page is so much more satisfying than swiping your finger across a screen.)
If you aren’t sold on this, I would simply recommend giving it a shot.
I was skeptical of audiobooks at one point too. When I was in Iraq, my platoon sergeant used to entertain us on patrols by playing a series of audiobooks. Believe it or not, but our special-forces-commando-all-American platoon sergeant’s favorite book series was about a quirky and seemingly unheroic female bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum.
We chuckled when we were first introduced to the Stephanie Plum series. We thought our grizzled veteran platoon sergeant (whose nickname was Das Fuhrer) was going crazy. But by chapter four of “Plum Spooky,” we were all impatiently waiting to know which of Ms. Plum’s bounty hunter boyfriends she would take home. Would it be Ranger? Or perhaps Diesel?
Stephanie Plum is not my first choice for book series, but it was definitely entertaining.
Reading the news is always going to be vital to understanding the world, but we won’t ever have a larger perspective without books. They give us a deeper understanding of people, places and ideas. If you can’t find time to pick up a book every now and then, give Overdrive a shot. You can listen to books on your commute, while you clean the house or mow the lawn.
We might not forget how to read, but we can easily forget how enjoyable a good story is.
If you aren’t currently a library member, go visit and get a card. You might also bump into the new library director, Ruth Bond, who happens to be from Kitsap County, Washington, my old stomping grounds.