The Importance of Reading

I’ve always been a bookworm. For as long as I can remember I have taken solace in the pages of a book to help me through breakups, heartbreak, loss, grief and stress. I also read just for enjoyment and find it really relaxing. But I know many people find it hard, some because they struggle with concentration, some because they suffer from dyslexia and feel intimidated and some people associate it with being forced to read the set curriculum at school. However reading is important and it’s something everyone should do and here’s why.

Reading has been found to enhance the connectivity in the brain and keeping the brain active can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also requires you to use your memory muscle which can decrease the decline of your memory. Not to mention reading expands your knowledge and vocabulary, but is also improves concentration and increases empathy. In the current climate we’re living in, I think empathy is lacking and the fact that people can gain more empathy from a book and gain more understanding of people and situations that they are likely never to find themselves in, is important. We could all benefit from being a bit more understanding to our fellow man.

Reading is also important as a form of entertainment and relaxation. Where possible, I always try to read the book version of a Film/TV series before I watch it’s translation to film. There have been times where the adaptation has been done pretty decently, but often the image I build up in my head is much more complex and multifaceted than it is on the screen. It’s also incredibly personal; it’s my mind’s interpretation of what I’m reading. Which is one reason I love hearing other people’s opinions of books I’ve read, to hear how they imagined it.

My boyfriend is one of those modest people who believes he’s not very smart, but actually he is. He thinks he doesn’t read a lot, but he’s always reading. Which brings me to my next point. Just because you don’t read books on the regular, it doesn’t mean you’re not a reader. You could be reading articles or forums, but you’re still reading! So don’t let someone shame you for not reading a conventional book. You’re still keeping your brain engaged and learning more so block out the haters.

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Likewise when you are reading books don’t let someone shame you for the subject matter or genre.  I’ll admit “chick lit” (I hate that term) is not for me but I wouldn’t shame someone for reading it, I really hate this modern mentality of shaming someone’s enjoyment of something. Just because it’s not your cup of tea, doesn’t give you the right to guilt someone else for enjoying it, so enjoy that book about the history of the Regency Revolution, or that tie-in Star Trek book and ignore what anyone else says. Just do you!

But above all my favourite thing about reading is the way it can bring people together, it opens the floor to discussion, it allows you to learn other perspectives and see the world through the eyes of someone else. It is the best way to escape without going anywhere. I don’t think I will ever stop reading and I’m proud to be a bookworm.

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In fact I would like to hear from you! I am looking for 5 people who would allow me to feature them on my blog, discussing your favourite book(s) and the impact they had on you. If you’re interested and happy to be involved, then please comment below. Until then, happy reading.

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Breaking the Silence

As you can imagine, I’ve been adjusting to life and trying to find my feet again. I’m hoping to get back into writing again soon, as well as carrying on with the book reviews. Now I have my book bug back, I think I’ll be reading a lot more than I have been or was.

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I’m attending a book event on Thursday evening in Manchester, with the author Joseph Knox. I read his first book Sirens and tore through it. I think the fact his books are based in Manchester (my city) make it easier for me to imagine the surroundings more, I also liked the way he named the chapters of Sirens after Joy Division songs (one of my favourite bands) His style of writing is great and he makes it easy for you to fall into the story without trying too hard. I’m currently reading his second book in the series (The Smiling Man) and I’m finding it hard to put it down and figure out who the culprit is. He’s brilliant at weaving storylines within one another, often linking one with the other through the most subtle of means.

I’m really looking forward to hearing him read an excerpt from his new book ‘The Sleepwalker’ and what he has to say about his methodology when writing, his favourite character(s) and of course whether there will be any other Detective Aidan Waits books.

I’m hoping I can use reading/writing as a cathartic process and hope that at some point I may even be able to write more poetry and eventually start writing short stories again.

G.

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Quick Commute Read – Book Review – The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

I’m currently working through a couple of books at the moment, but one is easier to read on my laptop and another is a bulky hardcover which is not ideal to lug around on the commute to work. So I’ve been relying heavily on short stories to entertain me on my way to work.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

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This was the latest offering for a short read and I have to say, I found it so warming. Perhaps the wind and the rain pelting the side of the train as I travelled home contributed to the cosiness of the book, but there was something so simple and magic about the story.

After initially being discarded into the toy cupboard for a short time, the Rabbit is reunited with the Boy and soon is a constant companion in all his adventures. But when the boy grows sick with Scarlet Fever, the little Rabbit is discarded and it’s easy to imagine that this is where the story ends, however we see more magic and a happy ending.

I don’t want to divulge too much in case you choose to read it, but it’s a delight and is a warm tale with plenty of lessons for both children and adults. I’d recommend this if you have children, or are looking to ignite the feeling of childlike innocence and imagination within yourself.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

‘Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’

 

Until next time fellow bookworms.

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Picking Up The Pieces by Paul Britton.

Paul Britton is now retired. But at one point he was the UK’s leading clinical consultant and forensic psychologist, assisting the police on various crimes over the years, including that of serial killers Fred and Rose West.

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This is the second book by Paul Britton and I have to say if this one was anything to go by, then I’d love to read his first one. It helps that Paul Britton is a natural storyteller and as well as giving you the facts (which you get in plenty of in depth abundance) he’s kind enough to explain the people, the surroundings and the feelings. Each chapter focuses on one or two cases he has dealt with as his time as psychologist and uses dialogue from sessions he has had with some of his patients.

Please be warned if you’re easily put off or have a weak stomach for some of the more horrific and real things that go on in the world around us, you may find this book difficult to read. Paul details crimes he has assisted on which range from sexual assault to murder. These cases are quite graphic to read about and some of it didn’t sit too well with me, but what was incredibly interesting was the way in which Paul seemed to look at the smaller details within a crime and ask questions, not only about the victim but the person committing the atrocity. This enabled him to construct a detailed profile of the type of person who would be responsible and from there the police could narrow down their focus to ensure they were looking for the right people and in the right places.

It’s no wonder that Paul Britton was the top of his game during his career, as when he discusses some of the cases he’s worked on, if it hadn’t have been for his insight and knowledge then the chances are there would have been more victims. But the thing I found more interesting about the book, were the sections where Paul gave detailed descriptions of this meetings with people who had been referred to him or sought out his help. In these moments you read about a wide range of people who suffer from sexually violent fantasies, lycanthropy and outbursts of violence. The techniques and questions Paul used to help these people, enabled me to see things from both sides and try to understand what can make a seemingly normal person wake up one day and suddenly start to act violently.

This is a great book that explains some of the methodology and techniques used not only in forensic profiling but also in rehabilitating those who have committed crimes and preventing those who could go on to do so. The only thing I didn’t like about this book, was there’s constant reference to certain patients of Pauls that you don’t hear much from again, Ray Knoxx being one of them, I would have liked to known what happened to him. I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy real life crime or those would like to study psychology or forensic psychology.

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My Top 5 Books of 2013 – Book 3

This book was published in 2012, but I had a backlog of books to read first, so I didn’t read it until last year. Whence why it’s on my 2013 list.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling.

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I grew up reading the Harry Potter books. The first book came out when I was 11 and it stayed with me into my 20’s. I escaped into that world, connected with the characters, laughed with joy and cried many, many tears when my beloved characters died. I honestly believe that JK Rowling inspired a whole new generation of children to love literature all over again, she even inspired the same passion in adults. So when the Harry Potter books came to an end, I wondered, what next?

When the news emerged that Jo would be writing an adult book that was as faraway from Harry Potter as possible, a lot of fans were in uproar, they were angry, sad and confused, they wanted to know why she wasn’t writing sequels or prequels, although these have been teased over the years. To be honest, I never understood the backlash, I thought it was great that she was going to write something different, her capabilities to bring people and places to life had been enjoyed for years, so I had no doubt at all she could write a story that captivated people. And that’s exactly what she did with The Casual Vacancy.

This book focuses around the death of Barry Fairbrother and the idyllic town of Pagford. Barry’s death means there is a seat on the Parish Council; this acts as a catalyst for a war that resonates through the town, with people battling to win his place and the power that comes with it. But don’t read this blurb and think it’s all about bake offs, posters and campaigns, what we have here is an unflinching look at society. Behind the scenic beauty of Pagford we see crumbling marriages, a division of class, drug abuse and teenage sex. And that’s just scratching the surface.

The characters are all well formed and believable, some are grotesque, some humorous and some are so brave yet tragic that your heart breaks for them. It does take a while for the plot of the story to be revealed, as Jo spends some time investing in the characters and the relationships and frictions between them, but stick with it. As the story develops, so does the drama. There’s a sense of tension that builds up in the final part of the book as events unfold. The ending is seeped in tragedy and will leave you breathless. A brutal book that covers taboos often ignored, but very much apparent, in modern day society. JK Rowling did it once again; she made me fall in love with her ability as an author and confirmed my fan girl status. I have nothing but love and admiration for her. This book further adds to her hype and displays why she is one of the finest writers of our time, and rightfully so.

Read this if you’re a Harry Potter fan who isn’t ignorant, fans of drama will love this as well as those who like a fictional, but so well written it could be factual, look at the human condition and modern day Britain. It may even help you realise not to be so quick as to judge others, a fine book.