You know when you get to the Tell Us Something Interesting About You part of a profile? This is usually the section where most people can wax poetic about their amateur entomology obsession, or how they spend their free time building boats or being an all-around interesting human with “cool” hobbies. But for those of us whose main hobby is reading, that question can more or less ignite an existential crisis that sounds something like this: Does reading 40 books a year count as “something interesting?” Other people are running marathons, and I’m just reading about them! Wait, what am I doing with all that time?
Sure, you could be surfing, perfecting the art of calligraphy, or cataloguing stars or something. But you have the misfortune of being a reader, which means you literally spend hours and hours at a time sitting by yourself, moving your eyeballs across a page full of words, and playing make-believe in your own head. When you think about it that way, it might become tempting to throw out all of your books and replace them with a rock collection; at least then you’d be “doing” something, right?
Wrong. Because it turns out that reading isn’t just a completely legit and interesting thing to do with your time. It’s actually the coolest hobby ever, and here are some of the reasons why.
You Can Do It Anywhere
Except maybe the shower. But then again, these days the shower isn’t off limits anymore either. Thanks to technology, you can literally be reading all the time, anywhere. A book, in whatever form, is so incredibly portable. Much more so than, say, a surfboard, or a drum set, or craft beer-making equipment. And you don’t need a beach or a studio or a lab to do it. Also…
Reading Is the Hobby of Choice of the Zombie Apocalypse
Except maybe sharp-shooting… A book (at least the “old-fashioned” kind) doesn’t need batteries (or ammo), it’s a quiet enough activity that you won’t attract zombie attention. Nobody wants zombie attention. And you can read one book over and over again.. Oh and even if, half the population of the world is zombified and no one’s publishing books anymore, still...
You’ll Never Run Out Of Books To Read
Hate to squash your lifelong dream of reading every single book in the world before you die, but there are just too many! There were too many decades ago, and, every day, more are flooding the bookstores!
You Can Make Your Own
And if, for some bizarre reason, like a plague that instantly disintegrates all paper products or all books instantly self-destruct or something, you can always just make new books. Making up stories has been a thing humans have done since we started making enough sounds to put together a string of thoughts (and who knows what was happening inside human heads before that). So, you really will never run out of stories to “read,” so long as you don’t mind making up your own.
Everybody Thinks You’re Way Smart
You know you look smart sitting in the coffee shop, glasses-clad, with a pensive look on your face. You might even proudly position your book in a way that everyone can see the big impressive title. If no one knows anything else about your reading habit, they all assume one thing… you’re probably über-smart. And the thing is...
Reading Actually Does Make You Way Smart
There are all sorts of studies that seems to corroborate the whole reading books makes you smarter idea. Plus, how many biographies of geniuses and artists and the like start out with a precocious kid who reads a lot? That said...
Anyone Can Do It
You don’t have to be a genius to read a book. You just have to know how to read and manage to get your hands on a book. And books are their own instruction manual in learning how to read. It’s the access to books part that’s the very sad difficulty in many places…
You Probably Never Have To Ask A Friend To Edit Your Cover Letter
Turns out that reading thing also tends to make folk pretty good at spelling words and putting them in the right order and things. You might not be a professional editor, but you’re unlikely to run into the all-too-common problem of “your” vs “you’re” and such things.
There’s No Serious Risk Of Injury
Except maybe to your eyesight, unless maybe you eat a lot of carrots. But for the most part you can take part in grand adventures across Middle Earth and back, to the tops of volcanoes, around the world in 80 days, down to the bottom of the ocean in the hunt for Atlantis, and all without risking anything more than a paper cut. How is that not winning?
It Makes You A Great Conversationalist
With all that reading you’re bound to pick up a few witticisms here and there, or at least a decent enough way with words. You can even straight-up hijack a few full quotes and probably not get called out (unlike that friend of yours who’s always quoting Scandal and acting like everyone isn’t painfully aware of it).
You Get To Have ALL The Hobbies!
Funny thing about books… there are a lot of them, like a lot a lot, about pretty much everything. Even if you stick entirely to fiction there are many many characters with many many different interests and you get to experiences those interests through them. Ever wonder what it’s like to be a whale hunter (please don’t hunt whales...)? Read Moby-Dick . Curious about archery? Check out Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The White Company . You might not be able to put amateur archer or expert chess player under the hobbies section of your résumé, but, as a reader, you get a glimpse of what it’s like to do so many different things! Honestly, it’s hard not to feel sorry for everybody else, who only get to have one or two hobbies. We readers get to explore them all!
Or as George R.R. Martin says, in a play off of Shakespeare:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
Image: Flickr/Fe Ilya