I'm happily married to magazines (and to you, honey), but I am having a delicious affair with novels. Thanks to my friend Penny who convinced me to join her book club years ago, reading fiction has become a necessity for my mental health, just like exercise. But I have plenty of smart friends who feel they're just too busy to read books. Here are some reasons I think it's worth it.
1. You'll discover new voices that are dear to your heart. When my daughter was in second grade, their nightly reading time was called "Drop Everything and Read," or DEAR. How fitting. Anyone who's asked me for a book suggestion lately will tell you that I'm crushing on Liane Moriarty, the author of the current best-seller Big Little Lies as well as the earlier gems, What Alice Forgot and Three Wishes. I am finishing the last of her six novels now and don't want it to end (although I was glad to hear she's signed another two-book deal). She writes about being a woman, mom, wife, girlfriend, sister, daughter, friend, triplet, and stalker with such memorable details and surprising word choices that I often laugh out loud.
2. Taylor Swift thinks you should. She is very popular in my home; my 9-year-old sings her songs and is learning to play them on the piano. How cool that Swift recently teamed up with Scholastic to encourage kids to get excited about reading. As she said in this video chat with kids, "I wouldn't be a songwriter if it wasn't for books that I loved as a kid. When you can escape into a book, it trains your imagination to think big, and to think that more can exist than what you see."
3. Even if you love social media, sometimes you need antisocial media. Whether you're with co-workers or children all day, it can be a treat to delve into the pages of a book by yourself. And fiction can be a respite when there's too much bad news in the real world. Of course, books can be social too. I look forward to my book club—not only to discuss our monthly pick, but to catch up with an eclectic group of women. And you can follow your favorite authors (and your kids' favorite authors) on Twitter.
4. You can read anywhere. I will never give up on paper books, but I love the Kindle app on my phone, which allows me to have a handy-sized book at my fingertips. Stuck on a crowded subway? Waiting in a chilly exam room for the doctor to finally come in? I just read a few pages. I have converted quite a few people to this convenient alternative.
5. It can be a family affair. My husband I and sometimes read the same book. Recently, I encouraged him to read the terrific A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (he wasn't initially excited when I told him it was about "a grumpy Swedish man"), and we ended up talking about me how much Ove reminded him of his grandfather I'd never met. My daughter and I often sit on the couch and read our own books together, and I've suggested middle-grade titles I think she'll like, such as Elizabeth Atkinson's I, Emma Freak, and Rain Reign, the newest from Ann M. Martin. Ah, it's sweet when a book is more compelling than the iPad.
No matter how old your child is, check out our Best Children's Books of 2014.