How books can save the world

  • Reading is a low carbon activity, especially if you read the same book more than once or share it.
  • While theatre, film and other creative forms can offer some of the same benefits, it’s the effect of being involved with the world of a book over days, maybe weeks of reading that has the power to really impact on us. The act of getting involved with a story over time means a book can become part of our lives in an ongoing way, and in the easy business of having a long term relationship with a book, we become more able to engage with that which is not us.
  • Fiction teaches us to see the world through other people’s eyes. We imagine ourselves as other people, and so learn to empathise, which in turn should help us be more co-operative in real life. It is co-operation, not competition that we need right now.
  • Sitting quietly with a book is soothing to body and mind. It slows us down, takes us out of the fast lane of consumption. The more people leave the fast lane, the more sustainable everything becomes.
  • Stories get us interested in ideas, encouraging us to think and question. They teach us not to take everyone’s words and motives at face value. These are skills we all need to deal with information from politicians and the media, who seem intent on pushing us towards ecocide, but good at telling us they aren’t doing that.
  • Fiction shows us people overcoming challenges, hardships, and if you read fantasy, significant forces of evil. We can find courage to face our own challenges from the inspiration of fiction, we can believe that one person may change everything, and so we are more able to become that person.
  • In most stories, selfish, greedy, power hungry people are the bad guys. This gives us a valuable perspective on the real world and the people in power.
  • Books have the capacity to be far more than entertainment, however the chance to escape into other lives and worlds offers us emotional respite which in turn makes it easier to deal with this world and not be ground down by it. Avoiding people being ground down by misery and despair is an essential aspect of fixing things.
  • Books offer us other ways of being and living, from the idealistic to the horrific. This helps us recognise that the world as it is, is not inevitable, just one option amongst many. We could choose differently.
  • Books expose us to beauty, love, heroic friendship, happy endings (at least sometimes) adventure, and they stimulate the imagination. The more of this we have inside of us, the more able we are to recognise it, seek it and make it happen. People who are full of banal thoughts, mean ideas and the like aren’t likely to imagine a better way of living.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

10 responses to “How books can save the world

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