Columns > Published on June 30th, 2015

8 Ways Books Cure Loneliness

Summer is in full swing. Couples are out lounging on blankets in the park, friends are waiting in line at amusement parks, and families are enjoying beach days. If you feel like you’re sitting in the background, watching all the fun, fear not! Walk yourself to the nearest library or bookstore, because I have found the solution to loneliness: literature.

Skeptical? I’ve got eight reasons!


1. You are invested in a story

If you are reading a book that really grabs you, the outside world begins to matter less and less. I have been known to miss subway stops, stay up hours later than I intended, and completely disappear into myself when reading. Who has time for feeling lonely when you are that engrossed in a great story? Books are also a temporary stress reliever. If I am having a hard day, I make sure to take my mind off of the issue for a bit with a few chapters of my current read. Get invested!

Most of the readers I know follow the “always have a book on you” rule, and I strongly suggest you hop on board.

2. A book is actually the perfect dinner date

Sometimes I just want to enjoy a delicious dinner at a restaurant without feeling like I have to entertain someone sitting across from me and laugh at their bad jokes. Is that so wrong? A book will never make a bad joke (unless it aids the plot), and you will never have to fake laugh at it. A book is also a great way to pace yourself during meals. Instead of putting your fork down between bites, try reading a paragraph between bites instead. It’s healthy for your mind and your body!

3. A good character feels real

Really talented writers can create characters that are so authentic, flawed, and honest that they seem to be real. Sometimes I feel like the fictional story I am reading could have easily happened. In some cases, literary characters have been known to be more interesting than your actual friends. Shocking, but true. So, if the company you've been keeping is less than stellar, you know where to turn.

4. Books don’t cancel on you

When you come home after a long day, your books are always on the shelf where you left them. When you make plans to read them, they show up! If you’re tired of flaking and disappointment from people, know you can always fall back on a book. My advice would be to make your back up book plan the primary one.

5. Books are great for lag time

Waiting in line, commuting, trying to fall asleep, and other lonely in-between times can be made better if you’re sure to carry a book around with you. Not only will this cure your loneliness, you will also make the best use of your time! Most of the readers I know follow the “always have a book on you” rule, and I strongly suggest you hop on board.

6. The endless choices

A sad truth in my life is that I will never be alive long enough to read every book. Just thinking about it now bums me out. What’s great about this, though, is that I have an endless amount of choice! Genres, lengths, authors, classics, new releases, etc. There is no use feeling lonely when there is so much reading to be done. Okay, now I’m starting to panic….I better start reading now and get in as much as I can!

7. Books are why bookstores exist

It’s been proven that bookstores are the best cure for loneliness (in my world, anyway). Most bookstores are not only places to get your favorite reads, but they also host author events, signings, and community events. If you want to meet smart, like-minded people, look no further than your local independent bookstore. Book sellers also make great friends, and great recommendations.

8. Books remind you there is a world out there, and it’s worth exploring

Sometimes the best cure for loneliness is to step out of the craziness of the day-to-day. A good book is a reflection of our lives and our selves, and can remind us that there is so much we haven’t seen or experienced yet. Your escape from the world can also be your way back into it. Crazy, I know. But true!

BONUS!

The following ten books have made me feel like less of a lone soldier:

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Autoportrait by Edouard Leve
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
My Heart is an Idiot by Davy Rothbart
The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein
Woolgathering by Patti Smith
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed


What’s on your list?

About the author

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

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