Spring is seen as a time of new life, growth, and for hope – hope for sunnier, warmer weather, for change. Many of us eagerly wait for winter’s grasp to lessen and allow the sleeping plants to bloom. However, despite the promise of brighter days, some days are only the cold, the rain, the blah of this time of year.
What can we do to alleviate the dreariness of these cold spring days? Lots of things, such as indoor hobbies, cleaning, lifting weights or doing stretches, etc. One of my favorite indoor (and outdoor) activities is reading. What better time to start, or increase, reading than during National Reading Month (March)?
Why reading? It enables us to learn things, meet new people (fictional or real), and go places we’ve never been, all from the comfort of where we are. As a side note, studies have shown reading is healthy for the mind, can increase empathy, and help lessen depression or stress.
Ever wanted to learn more about the ocean, how to paint, or a certain period of history? There are many books on these and more subjects. Wish you could be in Paris, France, or visit the Great Wall of China? You can read about and see photos of those places you may have the opportunity to visit someday, and even if you don’t go, it’s close to almost being there.
For me, reading has not only been a great asset in learning, but also in comfort, encouragement and inspiring hope. I mostly read fiction, in which it is common for the main character(s) to struggle against something and, with some exceptions, overcome it. A well-written story and characters will have you transfixed on how things will turn out. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is – solving a mystery, dealing with trauma, or defeating a powerful evil overlord (though each has different approaches to handling the issue) – I want to see the resolution.
It is encouraging to see the underdog, through many trials and errors, overcome the obstacle and win the day. It’s also comforting to be reminded that we are not alone in what we experience. Characters have many challenges to face in stories and, even in fantastical settings, there is usually one we can relate to.
For me, one of the most important things in a story is hope. The hope that things will turn out well in the end. Yes, I prefer stories with happy endings. While stories such as ‘1984,’ ‘The Hunger Games,’ and ‘All Quiet On the Western Front,’ are good, as warnings of what society could become or through the horrors of war, they are not stories I re-read often.
While reading stories with good (or at least, resolved) endings is not a cure for problems, it’s nice to be reminded in a small way that there is good, beauty and hope in the world.
“…Let there be goblin hordes, let there be terrible environmental threats, let there be giant mutated slugs if you really must, but let there also be hope. It may be a grim, thin hope, an Arthurian sword at sunset, but let us know that we do not live in vain.” — Terry Pratchett
- When not occupied with reading, Hannah Rauzi is busy being the web editor for the Idaho County Free Press and The Clearwater Progress.
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