If you're someone who identifies as a reader, then books have already been a massive influence on your life. For some of us, reading one book after another since we first learned how has added so much to our lives. And there are tons of studies that show the benefits of reading, from increased empathy to lowered stress levels. But there are also tons of other small ways that you can take your reading beyond your favorite armchair, and let the books you love enrich your life even more than just giving you iconic characters to relate to and legendary romances to ship. One of the biggest ways to do that is by bringing a community element into your reading, letting books spur you on to actions both big and small that will change your life for the better.
Something as simple as spending time at your local book store to something more serious like volunteering to read to kids, being a lifelong reader can provide you with tons of opportunities to make the most out of life. We've come up with nine small things you can do combine books with betterment. Now get out there and make your world a better (and more bookish) place.
1Become A Regular At Your Local Indie Book Store
As a former indie bookseller, I can tell you that, if you go to a book shop enough, the employees will remember you, they will remember the books you like to read (and every single book you bought last time you were there), and they will put even more effort into finding you the next perfect read than they do for the average customer. In fact, it becomes a personal accomplishment to continue finding great books for someone they've already hand sold countless teeming piles to. If you ever wanted a fun, informative personalized shopping experience, go make friends with your local booksellers. Book shopping will never be the same.
2Attend Book Signings And Other Book Events
Reading doesn't always have to be a solitary experience. There are tons of bookish events and activities going on all the time, from book signings where you can chat up your favorite authors to events like BookCon and YALLFEST where you can grab tons of coveted upcoming releases. The best part is that you can meet tons of other book-minded people who would love nothing more than to talk obsessively about that new Jenny Han release or the dream cast for the latest book to movie adaptation. These are your people, go hang out with them!
3Join A Bookish Fandom
Another way to meet tons of like-minded readers? Become an active part of a bookish fandom. From Harry Potter to Sherlock Holmes, there are communities full of hundreds of thousands of people who are just as obsessed with your favorite books as you are...and they make it a point to come together to celebrate them however they can. Pick a fandom and check out Tumblr for pages and pages dedicated to it; search out trivia nights, film marathons, read-a-longs, fan meet-ups and conventions. You can make life-long friends through fandom, cementing your love of both the books and the community surrounding them.
4Volunteer To Read To Kids Or Something Else Book Related
There is nothing better than passing on the love of reading to another generation and reading to kids at a hospital, summer camp or after-school program can be a great way to make your reading life more meaningful than ever. But, if you prefer a more behind-the-scenes approach to volunteering, there is still tons you can do. If you're lucky enough to have a charity book shop near you, offer them your time to hand sell titles or help run events. Help a local school or church organize a book sale, donate titles to homeless shelters... use your love of books and reading in some way to help others. Books have given you so much, it's only right to give some of it back when you can.
5Travel To Bookish Destinations
Reading is, by nature, a very sedentary experience. You're mostly curled up on the couch or in bed, nose in a book. And while reading can allow us to live through the adventures of the characters we love, it's also important to get out there and have our own. So, combining the love of reading with some real world trips is ideal. Head over to Prince Edward Island to experience all things Anne of Green Gables, fly out to Bath, England to get the full Jane Austen experience, or wander New York City like Holden Caulfield. You'll get to celebrate your favorite reads and gain some life experience for your own writing at the same time.
6Read Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
With diversity movements like We Need Diverse Books, Own Voices and Reading Without Borders, the book community is paying more attention to reading broadly than ever before. But nothing will make your reading more meaningful than if you go beyond the norm. Reading a book about a character who doesn't look like you or live like you or about a topic you don't know much about will only teach you and enrich your life in more ways than you could have ever imagined. Plus, you'll just be spending time reading some really, really good books. And who would say no to that?
7Support Your Local Library
If you're the sort of reader who loves to stumble upon a new book at random, but can't afford to purchase reads you're not sure you'll love, the library is the ultimate resource for you. Take your time perusing the shelves, which are filled with thousands of reads from every genre imaginable. And when you're done, stick around for free afternoon movies, classes and other awesome offers. Libraries are a crucial part of our communities, and you'll feel awesome not only getting new reads, but taking part in keeping libraries alive, too.
8Create Your Own Book Club
Yes, there are tons of already established book clubs that you could check out, both online and off. But there is something really special about getting together with a group of people, whether your closest friends, new co-workers or with a large online community, and focusing in on exactly the sorts of books you want to read, share, and champion. Make a club that only reads women writers, or one that focuses on young adult stories from Own Voices authors, or read tons of graphic novels. Make a point to get the word out about the books you feel most passionate for. You'll not only be introducing more people to more awesome reads, you can even help change the way the publishing industry chooses what authors and stories to throw their support behind.
9Take Part In An Anonymous Book Drop
Take a page out of Emma Watson's book and start leaving copies of your favorite reads around town. You can give away books you already own and either loved (we all know there is nothing better than sharing your favorite reads with someone) or decidedly didn't and know that other people will enjoy way more than you ever could. This will definitely help keep your home library in order. Or you can buy one book a month or every couple of months as a random act of kindness. Go completely anon or leave a note in the book detailing why you loved it and think someone should read it. It will definitely add an element of fulfillment and community to your every day reads.