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Many individuals have a need to find others, interact with them, and engage in meaningful relationships. The drive to find others who share ideas, interests, and a common knowledge base is satisfied by communication, cooperative activities, and growth of trust. Shared immersion in books can also foster togetherness.
Books can bring us together. Rather, reading books can bring us together. Books provide a form of communication individually and as groups. A person who reads and is open to the ideas which he or she encounters has more opportunities to connect with others of like knowledge and interests.
Exploration of common experiences such as those presented in books provides an active opportunity for growth and change. The more ideas which are shared, the more touch-points we form with other people. Read on to explore some ways in which we grow closer to others when we read books.
7 Amazing Ways Books Bring Us Together
There are various approaches to building a society with more understanding and tolerance for each other. Books fill an important role in the path to working together. Here are seven different ways that books can help bring people together.
Through Mutual Understanding
When individuals who have little in common choose to read the same book, it can lead to communication between them. Understanding is one of the ways in which people draw closer together. When a book is promoted through reviews, social media, or book clubs, it shows others that there is something worth considering in the specific book. Whether the book is casual, or is controversial, it can pique the reader’s interest.
The foundation of understanding may not even be the ideas in the book, but rather that it is ‘trending’ among varying populations, ranging from two individuals deciding to read it together, to a much larger following making the effort to read a particular volume.
In a different way, reading a book with a viewpoint which does not fit your belief system, can be done for the purpose of understanding why the book is important to a significant person in your life. You may not agree with the premise, the characters, or the writing style, but you do care about another person who finds features of the book to appreciate.
When another person uses concepts or quotes from a book to present a point of view, reading the book for yourself can help to determine whether the ideas are out of context, or are poorly understood. Reading it may not always help improve understanding of or agreement with the concepts, but it does provide a basis for understanding the other person’s viewpoint.
Through breaking out of archaic thinking patterns
Like it or not, honest self-appraisal will often reveal thinking patterns or filters which are being applied to situations where they no longer fit. This can limit understanding between two individuals or groups since each person’s filters are unique. Exposure to unfamiliar topics, ideas, genres, and experiences can assist in understanding the point of view of others.
If you think of all information you might be exposed to in a lifetime, it requires conscious effort to continue expanding your knowledge base. Many people will narrow their focus as they mature. The result is to know more and more about less and less. For example, a generation that grew up in the 60s may be able to converse knowledgeably about a VCR, but not about the latest iteration of Windows.
Another example is tied to the knowledge base of students in a university situation. Their focus is likely to be primarily on their own field of study. Participating in a book club can help with exposure to topics outside of their own discipline. While the discussions of a new idea or process may not change thinking patterns, the realization that there are other ideas out there can keep you interested in a wider view of the way the world is.
Through encounters with different fictional or real characters
Books, whether fictional, biographical, or historical, present many different personalities and characters. It is expected that these people will have had experiences vastly different from our own. Reading about their lives and the way they respond to their environment or to a specific situation gives us better empathy for and understanding of individuals who are encountered in our day-to-day lives.
Books which delve into the personality of the character allow us to see how elements of that personality are present in a co-worker, fellow student, or others met in a more casual encounter. We read books which fit our own interest typically, and are drawn to characters that we recognize. Stepping into the mind of another person through a fictional or real-life portrayal may improve our ability to work with people we would not otherwise interact with.
Through access to new skills or knowledge
Through accessing skills and knowledge that we would not otherwise have, books provide a path to learn new skills and hobbies. Meaningful interactions with others depend on finding topics where there is shared knowledge or interests. Any conversation which is useful or productive requires becoming conversant in areas we may not already be familiar with.
To be able to learn something from another person, there must be a starting point of communication. A question formulated from a textbook, for example, can be the basis of a teaching moment or a learning moment, depending upon the level of understanding of the topic.
Through shared coincidences and recognition
Daily life involves many points of casual connections with other people. Something that another individual is reading can lead to lively discussions about a particular author, book, or concept. Blogs or social media encounters can lead to connections based solely on the choice of reading materials.
If you like to travel, for example, a book about a location you have planned to visit can provide an opportunity to learn more from a person who has visited there, or lived in the location. Forming social networks often begins with shared information about a book or a topic presented in a book.
Through encouraging communication
People love to recommend and share things they enjoy with others, given the opportunity. Whether your network is digitally based, a community book club, or a meet-and-greet opportunity at an industry gathering, asking questions of your peer network about reading suggestions could lead to the development of a years-long reading list and prompt thousands of conversations.
Through buffering controversial topics and opinions
Controversial topics and conversations can become overly heated at times. When this happens, it can prevent true communication. Reading about the topic in question can give both parties time and space to consider their opinions and to consider the opinions of the other person.
This breathing space can cool down an argument and provide time to formulate an intelligent and reasoned response, instead of reacting emotionally or defensively to a hot-button issue. It can allow people to find shared areas of agreement instead of focusing only on the points of contention.
Books as a starting point for communication
While reading a book is usually a solitary endeavor, it leads to communication when it is shared in discussion. Communication can be verbal, printed, or even a touch or look. It is through groups that many of the changes in society occur. Any avenue to improve true communication can lead to a more cohesive society.