Photo by Cesar Plascencia

Every October, the literary world indulges in a celebration of the works we possess. National Book Month is a time to remember those volumes shelved for later, that January resolution to read more, the state of your Goodreads account, and the location of your Kindle charger.

But celebrating books isn’t just about reading them, it’s about so much more.

As we take time this October to consider books, we can also think through the many things we have learned from them.

For some, this might mean growth in our knowledge of history or business or theology. It might mean our minds have expanded in an educational way or that we gained a new skill based on something written by an expert. But for others, the books we read might mean an escape that we have learned to use fantastical tales to escape the pressures we face in the real world. It might be that reading provides a healthy coping mechanism during stressful or challenging times and we are learning how to use these works to get us through. And still for others, it bridges the gaps of time, culture, continent, and finances to give us a taste of something different than what we know. It opens our eyes, through fiction or non-fiction, to a life we will never live.

While we think about the benefits of everything we have learned through reading, we also have the opportunity to thank those authors who have greatly influenced our lives. Whether a favorite author is a new up-and-comer or a long deceased genius, appreciating them can be soothing to our souls and theirs. National Book Month gives us a perfect opportunity to do this.

It can be done through simple things like leaving reviews of books that have influenced you— especially if it is a modern author who is trying to build an audience— or dropping a Facebook status with a quote and a tag for #nationalbookmonth, it is never unwise to show support for the authors you love. You never know when you might receive a comment back from them and have a chance to connect, or perhaps find that a friend is also a lover of that author and you have someone to indulge your ‘book talk’ with.

National Book Month can also be a time for us to engage in our local literary community, for example, by joining a book club or getting more involved with events at our local library.

Book readers often have a reputation for introverted tendencies, but that is not always the case, and sometimes we need opportunities to find others like us who want to chat about books. Engaging in your literary community can also have the added bonus of meeting local authors. If you’re lucky, they might even let you read their manuscript for free in exchange for an honest opinion. And what book lover doesn’t love getting a free book?

We should always remember that since many of us have been deeply influenced by reading, National Book Month is also a time to remember that we can share this love for the written word.

For some, this might look like reading to their children before bedtime and committing to do so every night, for others, it is gifting a book blessing to a dear friend. And still, for others, this can mean donating books to charities that get them into the hands of children who cannot afford them, or even to homeless shelters or shelters for abused women, any place that they might be needed. These types of opportunities are all around us.

All too often, reading is a gift of the privileged, and it is those who have countless books at hand that can spread them to others. National Book Month can provide the perfect opportunity to go through our collections and commit the heartbreaking act of letting go for the benefit of another.

Don’t let October go by without acknowledging this gift of reading and the books we have to enjoy it with. Use it as an opportunity to spread the written word and don’t forget to indulge.

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