National Book Lovers Day: 9 Reasons I Love Books

Originally published August 2013

August 9 is National Book Lovers Day. So you should be reading a book.

If there’s an official definition of what makes a book lover, I’m pretty sure I fit the bill. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid. Carolyn Keene, Laura Ingalls, Judy Blume, Madeleine L’Engle, Piers Anthony and VC Andrews led to John Irving, Richard Russo, Chris Bohjalian, JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman. So many books, so little time. Here are a few reasons why I’ll always be a book lover:

Books can be your best friend. I was one of those kids growing up that moved around a bit. Not “Army-brat moved around,” but even just once every few years makes it tough to establish deep roots in a community or with friends. My books? They followed me everywhere.

Books are zero-calorie and don’t require batteries. Guilt-free fun! And all it takes to make a book work? Something to turn the page with:

There’s no “goodbye” with books. Like any pop culture fiend, I loves me some good TV. When a great series ends, I mourn for days. Weeks. (I still sneak in YouTube moments with Donna and Josh from “The West Wing.”) But a book? I can just re-read it over and over. No pause or rewind button required.

Books make great conversation starters. Stuck somewhere with strangers? The next time the elevator gets stuck between floors, ask your new neighbor what the last great book they read was. Everyone’s got an answer, and they’re usually different.

Books are portable. Sure, just about everything is these days. But the pool, the beach, the tub, the doctor’s office … there are places that are just more suitable for paper than a microprocessor.

You’ll never read ’em all. Right now, I’ve got “Joyland,” “Sisterland,” “In Between Measures,” and “Cuckoo’s Calling” all checked out the library. And that doesn’t even make a dent in my summer and fall reading list. And then there are the books people tell you that you MUST READ. My to-read list only gets longer. And that’s a good thing.

Book jackets make for great art. I don’t know which art is more intriguing—book jackets or wine labels. But a beautiful cover is like that first glance at a cute boy—you just gotta know more.

Books are instant entertainment. The next time you’re bored? Or worse, your kid? Hand ’em a book. BAM!

Books transport you to wonderful, wonderful places. Maybe it’s between the pages—you’re off to Italy with Dan Brown’s “Inferno” or Chris Bohjalian’s “The Light in the Ruins,” or Sussex in Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” Stories like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “A Wrinkle in Time” take you to entirely different planes of existence. And then there are the buildings that house books—quirky fun book stores like the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, libraries of architectural significance like our very own Harold Washington library or homegrown neighborhood branches in Evanston, or historical favorites like the Library of Congress—these locales should be on everyone’s bucket list.

So stop reading this and go grab a book. You can thank me later. And then pull out one of your childhood favorites and turn your kid on to it. When a kid is holding a book, they can’t hold a game controller or a TV remote. And just maybe you’ll have something to talk about over dinner. Go on now!

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