How Reading Brings Us Together

Speech bubble with the quote, "Reading is that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midste of solitude." by Marcel ProustYou finally get some down time and settle into a comfortable seat and read. You may be alone or with a companion also reading or engaged in a quiet activity. You’re in your own little world.

Or are you? Where is that book transporting you?

Are you on a spy mission in France? Learning to navigate the world as an autistic teenager? Trekking across an unknown countryside to a better life?

Reading fiction or nonfiction connects us with people living in different places, time periods and cultures, and introduces us to new experiences and viewpoints. As we get to know the characters in a story, we may develop a clearer understanding of their plight and challenges which, in turn, can help us see our world from a different perspective.

“Recent research shows that far from being a means to escape the social world, reading stories can actually improve your social skills by helping you better understand other human beings. The process of entering imagined worlds of fiction builds empathy and improves your ability to take another person’s point of view. It can even change your personality. The seemingly solitary act of holing up with a book, then, is actually an exercise in human interaction. It can hone your social brain, so that when you put your book down you may be better prepared for camaraderie, collaboration, even love.”*

A woman in the foreground holds an open book and a pencil, smiling and looking towards other members of a book discussion groupBooks can be a conversation starter. Whether you’re comparing the movie versus the book with a friend over coffee, or sharing your thoughts with your book club friends, books bring us together with other people. We may agree or we may not; what’s important is that we’re having a conversation and sharing ideas with others.

Book discussions can trigger important conversations. Here at the library, our annual community-wide reading program, One Read, gives you the chance to explore many topics that you might not have otherwise. Over the years, we’ve talked about off-the-grid living, the history of the Osage Nation, teen mental health, Islamic family life and other global topics. This year’s book, “When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky,” prompts us to learn about the Cherokee nation, horse training, ghost stories, caves and more. Check during September for details.

Speech bubble with the quote, "We read to know we're not alone." by William NicholsonBooks can inspire and motivate us. This year’s Summer Reading theme, “All Together Now,” is a hope-filled call to action for all of us to work collaboratively as a community, as a nation and as a global community. Reading books gives us insight into our fellow humans so we can better connect with one another. So pick up a book, visit the world and get inspired to do your part to make the world a better place.

Regular Book Discussions at the Library

Columbia Public Library

Callaway County and Holts Summit Public Libraries

All Libraries


*Keith Oatley, “Fiction Hones Social Skills,”Scientific American, November 1, 2011.