Reading has truly changed my life, from the first time I started reading words together, up to now when I finally became part of an industry where reading is one of, if not the most important thing.
I always knew that I would end up working in an industry connected to books. I planned to take up Comparative Lit in college, but somehow ended up in Film. While I did somehow regret that choice, I still learned a lot, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t fall in love with film and temporarily forgot about my first love. But now, I am here, working in a publishing company and I couldn’t be happier, bringing books to people, being a reading advocate, and just surrounding myself with books, both for work, and also for leisure.
So how did reading change my life? Let’s limit it to five for now, or else this will turn into a novel.
1. Reading helped me speak English better.
Whenever someone asks me how I became good in English, whether it’s a student, a casual acquaintance or even a Westerner who is amazed at Asians who are fluent in English (yes, there are a lot of them out there), it boils down to two things: I had good English teachers and I read a lot (watching movies and TV also helped too, but that came later on). From the moment I could put letters, then words, then sentences together, I fell in love with reading and with books. The first non-school book that I read was The Bourne Identity (I was bored and I had a dictionary the entire time).
Yes, you can study grammar rules and vocabulary words, but nothing beats actually reading the English language, written down, “spoken” by the book’s characters, thought about by the author. I know that reading is an effort for some people, but if you really want to excel in English, then you have to make an effort, unless it really comes naturally to you.
2. Reading made me go places
Of course not literally. But way before I actually got a passport and was able to travel by plane, I already went to Greece, Italy, England, the US, Luxembourg, Spain, Australia, the jungles of the Amazon, the beaches in the Meditteranean, etc. It started with the “See the World” edition of the Childcraft Encyclopedia, where I listed down all the places I wanted to go to after I read the entire volume. (for some reason Luxembourg was number one) Then I moved to reading Harlequin and Mills and Boons later on (after the Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley phase) where the wanderlust bloomed. And even though I have been able to actually travel but not yet to those places, I feel like my world has expanded immeasurably because of reading.
3. Reading deepened my faith
When I became a Christian back in college, one of the things that helped me in my journey of faith, aside from the Bible of course, was reading through the works of Philip Yancey, Elisabeth Elliot, Max Lucado, and Harold Sala. Little did I know that I would eventually work for the company that published and republished their books, and that I would get the chance to have a small part in getting their works out to other people who were going through their own spiritual journeys. Some use #blessed ironically, but really, I do feel blessed that I actually believe in the books that we make and promote and introducing local authors to the public.
4. Reading opened my mind to a lot of ideas.
Even before Internet made the world both a smaller and bigger place, my sponge of a mind was able to understand complex, complicated ideas that were so far removed from my actual reality. It helped me understand that what’s around me is just a tiny, tiny fraction of what the world is actually like. And while I may not necessarily accept all these ideas, I believed it has helped strengthen my convictions and at the same time, it has helped me understand people that are different from me.
5. Reading helped me deal with depression.
It may sound cliche, but really, sometimes reading saved me from falling even deeper into depression. During those times when I didn’t feel like talking to or even seeing anybody, when I felt too ugly to go out of the house, when I felt like no one understands my seesawing emotions so I’d rather not meet anyone, when I just feel sad and misunderstood, instead of just wallowing in self-pity and drown in dark thoughts, I’d pick up a book, either a bubblegum love story to help me forget that I don’t have a love life, or a depressing book about a person who has it worse than me (not always a good idea), or an inspiring book to help me get out of the doldrums, or a book to help me understand my aforementioned seesawing emotions, or just a book to keep me entertained. Books have been my companion in both the darkest of times and the happiest of times.
Other ways that reading has helped changed my life
- Helped me get out of my shell sometimes (well, at least online)
- Met new friends, both online and offline (Hi Honey, Blooey, Tina, Judith, Mina, Anne, etc) and even reconnect with old friends (Hi Chrissie)
- Of course, it got me to my current job and my “calling”
- Taught me to multi-task (meaning reading several books alternately)
- Taught me to be a better writer (or so I think)
- Built up my ideal man and then subsequently destroyed the idea of an ideal man
- Helped me embrace things about myself that I wouldn’t have discovered if I didn’t see it in characters that I read about