While traveling this journey of life, with an obstacle at one turn and a flower at another, I never realized when books became my best friends. I grew up listening to “what are you reading?” as much as I heard, “why are you so quiet?” This realization probably happened sometime during my teenage years when my emotions were always wrapped into a thick layer of sarcasm. I am sure I would have snapped, “I am an introvert, and introverts love to read.” at everyone who dared to ask me, “why do you read all day?”
That was perhaps the moment when I realized that while people around me seek refuge in other people, I sought refuge in books. Who loves you better than books do when you are desperate for the said love?
I don’t think anyone can.
John Green wrote it later in “An Abundance of Katherines,” but I and many introverts realized it way earlier, he said –
However, this was just another habit of mine that was not very much appreciated by those around me. Why am I wasting time reading when I could go out and learn something worthwhile?
Adults around me, who cared a bit too much said that reading was making me anti-social and spacey. Oh, and the classic, ‘a girl shouldn’t be defined by these characteristics.’ This one was seriously my favorite.
What they failed to realize was, reading wasn’t making me anti-social. Instead, I was reading because I was anti-social, more like selectively social, the other way round. But the fact that someone would avoid talking to other people on purpose is still a weird behavior for them.
Your humans are weird, World, I am telling ya.
Weird or no weird, they do have the talent of making other people feel wrong about everything that happens, and they got me too. Their efforts were successful when I gave up reading for some time, I thought it would make them happy. But how wrong was I? It’s challenging to make humans happy!
It didn’t take long for me to realize the mistake I made. It was after giving up reading that I realized that I cannot keep others happy. Not until I am happy myself and my happiness is in reading, so that’s what I did. I read, and I read unapologetically.
I read to feel alive, to know I wasn’t alone, to live a thousand times, and to die a thousand times.
Why do introverts love to read?
Introverts love to read, well, most of them, and it is general knowledge. What I can’t understand is, why would you ask someone to stop doing something they love? Especially when that something is as innocent as reading? I can never understand how you think, but I am armed with facts.
Studies are showing what avid bookworms have professed all along: Fiction isn’t pointless. In fact, it’s one of the most enriching experiences one can have. For many introverts, the World of books beckons to us with almost magnetic force — so here are four good reasons, based on science, to trust that instinct and keep reading!
Reasons Introverts should not stop reading!
Fiction increases empathy and social intelligence.
Ever been so much engrossed into a story that you were teleported to a different world? A world where humans could fly, a world where you could reach one point from another in a few seconds, a world where werewolves exist and to a world where you save the World?
Well, let’s get out of there and continue reading, huh?
So, there is a piece of good news for you, researchers found that fiction readers create mind stimulations. Those stimulations are so extreme that readers feel like they are in the story, living as the characters live, dying as they die, and then rising out of death as they do. Any Harry Potter fans here?
So, if they read a passage which describes smell or textures, then their sensory cortex is engaged. If they read about real moments, their motor cortex is involved. So when you say “completely engrossed in the story,” your brain takes it literally.
Your brain reacts to the same way to the words engraved in the pages too. When you enter a character’s perspective, when you feel what they feel, and identify their struggles and desires, then you are actually practicing empathy. These details help us gain significant insights into human nature.
We say all the time we love being alone. However, at the same time, we have this deep engraved desire to understand other people. We want to know how they think what they think and people like me want to know how to make others tick. How else do you think I can irritate other people so quickly? Because I know what will irritate them and then I do it anyway.
On a serious note, though, fiction is a gateway to step into someone else’s shoes and become more empathic. Any other medium that does it as effortlessly as reading does? See, that’s why introverts love to read.
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
― Charles W. Eliot”
We become more comfortable with ambiguity, making better decisions.
“Fiction is a kind of simulation, one that runs not on computers, but on minds…”
The writer of “Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction,” Keith Oatley has expressed this beautifully. Books have this innate ability to make us explore new ideas, make impossible things possible. They help us in dealing with difficult emotions, and they make us comfortable with uncertainty in our lives.
Because books are often so ambiguous, they make us comfortable with ambiguity, one study found. As a result, we don’t crave for cognitive closure or definite conclusions. It’s not that they are not necessary, they are just not compulsory. This helps us avoid being rigid in our thinking and avoid making poor decisions. One thing that I realize daily is, reading has helped me avoid making snap judgments.
Introverts love to read, but what we love the most about reading is the stimulation. One minute, we are trying hard not to kill someone with sarcasm. Then the next minute we are zooming across planets, jumping from tree to tree, killing bad guys using cool spells and what not!
The stimulation that books give us, the way they fill our imagination with experiences are hard to describe. And they give us all these experiences without playing with our energy or without leaving our house.
After every long day, I need two things, my bed, and my book, and I am sure I am not alone. Collapsing on the couch with a fantastic book in our hands is the perfect self-care activity for us.
We might be quiet, but our minds are always busy, always buzzing, and the transition from a hectic day to mediation tranquility is difficult. In this case, reading is a perfect alternative.
In a New Yorker article, Ceridwen Dovey explained, “Research has shown that reading puts our brain into a pleasurable trance-like state. It brings health benefits similar to meditation – inner calm and deep relaxation.”
Research at the University of Sussex found that 68% of our stress is reduced by reading, helping us way more than a walk or a cup of coffee does. When we read, our emotions are so much absorbed into that one novel that our heart rate slows down, and muscle tension is reduced. It is just an added bonus that regular readers sleep better.
No offense to you World, but this World is a particularly exhausting place for us introverts. We work with people all day, we are pushed to talk more in class, participate in not-so-fun activities, and then on the top of it all, attend a party. These things aren’t enjoyable for us; instead, they are draining.
This is just another reason why introverts love reading, it calms us, socializing, on the other hand, does not.
Reading makes us better communicators.
There is a fragile line between solitude and loneliness. We don’t get lonely when we are alone, we get lonely when we struggle to communicate. Not being able to talk about our thoughts, ideas, and feelings with our closest friends makes us feel alone.
Reading helps us lessen this struggle, it helps us to keep our thoughts organized, making the communication effective. The website testyourvocab.com reviewed data from millions of test-takers and found that the people who barely read do not have vocabulary as rich as avid readers. At the same time, fiction readers have more expansive vocabulary as compared to non-fiction readers.
Rich vocabulary opens up the opportunities to express oneself and build meaningful connections with others by engaging in deep conversations, just another reason why introverts love to read.
From a very young age, many introverts are told just how uninteresting and lost they are. They order us to come back to earth and learn more ‘practical’ skills like cooking and socializing. These things are necessary, but reading is just as essential for us, there is nothing like the silent intensity of being absorbed in a good book. After all, stories transform the World.
Hope you would understand this pretty soon, World!
Until next time,
You might like:
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Introverted Entrepreneurs 101: Thriving in an Extroverted World
10 signs of an Extroverted Introvert
Introverts and Planning, what’s the connection?
This is the fifth letter to the World from an Introvert, stay tuned for more.
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