By Thomas Maranian

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” This quote from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series cannot be any truer than it is.

Today’s society faces the epidemic of the latter. If every man, woman, and child on this earth were to love reading, this world would be a better place. There have been nearly 130 million books published throughout modern history. That being said, no matter how fast you can read, the number of books that can be read throughout a lifetime is nowhere even close to one percent of that. If you think you’re going to defy those odds, check the math for yourself.

So why bother reading if you can’t obtain all the knowledge in the world? Well for one, you will be able to immerse yourself in hundreds of different worlds if you read fiction. There is so much to learn through reading, starting with themes. The lessons you gain out of reading any type of book will benefit your own life going forward. When people tell you that smart people read books, it really means that people read books to become smarter. But you shouldn’t open a book just because you are required to. You should read because you want to. So much of television and film is based off of books that nine times out of ten, are more in depth with the plotline, character development, and theme. If you think a movie is good, you will be amazed by what happens in the book.

Reading is exercise for the mind. The body is to weights as the mind is to books. You simply cannot expand your knowledge if you choose to not read. When students choose to use SparkNotes instead of opening the book for themselves, generally it is a sign of laziness. There are those who might not be able to stay focused on reading for large amounts of time. However, there is a solution.

People get the wrong idea that to read a book, it has to be done in one sitting. Even if you love reading, this can be exhausting at times. You should break up your reading in sections and try to log how many pages you read in a journal each day. As your reading progresses, you will find that you begin logging more often into the journal in regards to pages read. Ten pages per day will turn into fifty and then a hundred. Exercising your mind will allow you control your focus ranges. And once you begin to really get involved with the story, you won’t want to put the book down.

Just how exercising builds muscle, reading builds vocabulary and spelling. In time, you will become a better writer by reading advanced works of literature. As you continue through a story, it will make you want to foreshadow the end for yourself. You will try and solve the problem before it gets solved. Eventually you will become so emotional with the characters that you will get mad at them for not knowing what to do, where to go, or the right decision to make. Reading can also play an influential role in your daily life. Perhaps you will look up to a character as a role model.

The best part about reading is that there are plenty of different genres. If history is of interest to you, there is plenty of nonfiction about war, plague, government, and exploration. If you want to enter a new world full of magic and adventure, then fantasy is going to be your best friend. Maybe you are passionate about space, or the idea of time travel is all you can think about. Science fiction will be the way to go. But perhaps you just want a regular fiction novel. There are fiction novels that combine some reality with made up characters for an interesting twist. The list doesn’t end there. What you need to understand is that there will always be a story out there for you. You just have to do a little research into what exactly you are looking for.

Your imagination will be challenged and you will find yourself on a mini vacation from your own world. Reading is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Once you get a few pages in and the story starts to pick up, you will find that the pages turn themselves. You will begin to theorize what might happen later on. Before long you will want to read the next book in the series. Sometimes reading can inspire you to write your own novel or book series. Just be sure not to use the same ideas!

It should never be your primary objective with to pass time when reading. However, as you dive deeper and deeper into the book, you will begin to notice how fast time does pass when you read. Sometimes we all just need to take a moment and completely relax. Pick up a book and your troubles will disappear. You will go into a state of peace where nothing matters but the story in your hands. Keep turning those pages. More experienced readers will start to make connections between the lives of the story’s characters and their own. You will begin to think that every day of your own life is like a page in a book. Every step you take and every move you make is but a chapter of your life. At the end of the day, you want to live a life of adventure. Be the one to write your story.