Has there ever been a less-necessary post than this one in the history of the Cultivate blog? :) After all, I think Cultivators innately understand how reading can help you cultivate what matters—how reading can help you live on purpose and achieve the goals that matter to you. But because books and reading are favorite topics around here, and just in case we haven't yet converted you, let's dive in. Today, we're sharing ten ways reading can help you cultivate what matters!
1. Books help us learn. Whether fiction, non-fiction, or memoir, books have something to teach us. They can teach us about a topic, about the past, or about ourselves—and all in a way that's incredibly accessible to almost everyone. (We heart libraries!)
2. Books give us practical help. Want to learn how to budget? Struggling with a parenting decision? Curious how other people have grown their prayer life? Non-fiction books are full of expert advice that's been researched and considered by often not just one but many people—and then carefully written, edited, and packaged to help you learn. Whatever goals you have, books can help you figure out the best plan and action steps to achieve them.
3. Books expose us to new ideas, people, and places. Each of us has a limited view, circumscribed by our place and time of birth, our upbringing, our education, our social circle, and many more factors. Through books, we can push beyond those boundaries. We can travel the world, meet people we'd never have the chance to strike up a conversation with, learn about jobs and life circumstances we'd never see up close. As we do, we can grow greater empathy and understanding for those who are different than us.
4. Books remind us that change is possible. By reading the stories of others, whether fictitious or factual, we're reminded that people have the capacity to change. We become more familiar with what change looks like. We see the process up close. And that, in turn, makes us more likely to believe change is possible in our own lives.
5. Books inspire us. We say that it's better when we grow together, and that certainly includes in-person community and accountability for our goals. But we can also be inspired to do more and do better by the characters we meet in novels and the historical and contemporary figures we meet in non-fiction and memoir.
Cultivating what matters requires doing things differently than those around us. If life sometimes feels a bit lonely in your town or friend group or job, you might find a kindred spirit waiting at the library.
6. Books connect us to others. Speaking of kindred spirits waiting at the library... books are a fantastic way to grow your real-life community, too. It's a true joy to discover someone else loves a book you love—or even hates a book you love!—and launch into a lively discussion. When you know someone loves to read, you almost certainly know several other things about them: that they're curious, that they appreciate beauty, that they're a sucker for a good story. Those are the kinds of traits a friendship can be built on.
Kelley from Team Cultivate agrees: "I think what I love most about reading is how it connects me to other people in so many ways. When I was in fourth grade, my grandmother took me to the library and pointed out how we were surrounded by words literally penned by real people. She told me, 'Every book is filled with something that was precious to the person who wrote it. It's a gift to hold a book in our hands.' I have NEVER forgotten that. It's so simple, but it overwhelms me that people would put time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into crafting and publishing their thoughts—all so that I could read them! How crazy is that?!"
7. Books are a source of beauty. In a world that often feels cold, cruel, confusing, unfair, and ugly, good books are a reminder that beauty is still being created and consumed. Authors care enough to spend years of their life researching and traveling or sitting alone at a computer getting the details of plotting and character just right. And on the other end, readers care enough to spend their money on fresh releases, fill their homes with tattered copies, and tote their paperbacks and e-readers on vacation.
8. Books provide a screen-free alternative. Many of us desire to be on our phones less, but it can be hard to know what to pick up when we put our phones down. Books (physical or digital) are the perfect endless source of amusement, entertainment, and absorption, and so they are a great alternative to things that don't matter (ahem, endless doom scrolling).
9. Books help us slow down. In a world that's constantly screaming at us, dragging our eyes from one headline to notification to ding to message to another, books are a refreshing sigh of relief. Quiet, calm, and solitary, they offer us an opportunity to sit awhile in their black-and-white simplicity and a welcome invitation to exercise our attention spans.
10. Books bring us joy. They are a reminder that life is meant to be savored and enjoyed. They are a wonderful way to wake up in the morning and a cozy way to end a day. They can help us fill endless hours with satisfaction, make us laugh out loud, and bring us to tears. The best books are like old friends, and can bring almost as much joy to our lives.
We'd love to hear: How does reading help you cultivate what matters?
And pssst: if you're a reader, you'll love our Cultivated Reading Journal!