Every summer I used to haunt the local used book store near my grandma’s place in Oyama, BC, where I’d stay for the majority of summer holidays. I’d carry an armful of Stephen King, Ann Rice, James Rollins and Tom Robbins back to my grandma’s house, grab a glass of ice tea and an orange creamsicle bar and lounge poolside whilst lost in worlds of vampires, pet cemeteries, subterranean creatures and surrealist seriocomedies.
But then I had to go to university, and had limited time to read for fun. I felt like if I had time to be reading something, it should probably be textbooks and research papers. Even though I took every English Lit course I could as electives, assigned novels simply couldn’t be enjoyed; they had to be scrutinized and dissected and written about for letter grades.
I didn’t get back on the book wagon until after I graduated university and secured a full-time job. But even then, any time I had a moment to spare to read I felt like I should be doing something else instead; something productive. I should be writing, I thought, because that’s what you need to do if you want to improve your writing skills as a communications specialist and freelance magazine writer.
So I started a blog.
But as any blogger knows who’s trying to build a following, you need to read successful and well-written blogs to write successful and well-written blogs. You need to engage not only with your readers, but also with other bloggers who write about similar topics as you, and keep up-to-date on blogger best practices.
All of this takes time. And although it takes away from the time I might have spent reading a good book, I’ve come to realize how much I truly enjoy and get out of reading authentic words from lovely, funny, smart, interesting and like-minded people. People I may never have had the chance to get to know if it wasn’t for the blogosphere.
Although I believe making time to read books is important – and something I’m carving out more time in my day to do – reading a short but insightful blog post is better than no reading at all. And it’s certainly better than just reading garbage news sites and celebrity gossip on the internet.
I started thinking about how much bloggers actually contribute to the world after reading this article about how reading can transform your health by novelist Michael Grothaus on Inc.com.
“Reading can offer richer, broader, and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding,” Dr. Josie Billington, deputy director of the Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool, says in the article. Although Grothaus and Billington are referring to reading books for pleasure, I’d argue that reading anything for pleasure that has depth and insight “gives readers a greater ability to cope with difficult situations by expanding their ‘repertoires and sense of possible avenues of action or attitude.’”
I think many of us bloggers, especially those in the health and fitness category, started a blog because we thought we had something to share that could be of benefit to others. Aside from providing useful advice and tips on everything from healthy eating and exercise to relationships and parenting, we could be providing “numerous additional benefits to [the] physical and psychological health” of our readers.
In the Inc.com article, Sue Wilkinson, the CEO of The Reading Agency, says “research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers. Large scale studies in the U.S. show that being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.”
I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel happier and more engaged after catching up on my favourite blogs. When I’m going through a tough situation or circumstance, the first thing I do is look for another person in the blogosphere who has gone through something similar, and has some advice to share that might help me get through it. Although the stories in novels can be great distraction, sometimes a more personal connection with a real person through the written word is just what you need.
So if you’re a blogger, know that your advice, tips, random thoughts and personal experiences are a beneficial contribution to the world, regardless of how many page views or email subscribers you have. Whether you have 10 readers or 10,000, keep writing: you never know who might benefit from your insight.
If you don’t currently have a blog but have always wanted to start one, please do. You never know who might need your voice.
Do you have blogs you read regularly? Which ones? Has a blog post helped/changed your life in any way? Do you make time to read — books, blogs or otherwise?