Books Have the Write Stuff When It Comes to Improving Our Lives

Franci Neely
3 min readOct 5, 2022

Ernest Hemingway once said there is no friend as loyal as a book. Since I’ve been a child, I have always looked at reading as a gift. When I was assigned books to read in school, it never felt like a chore. Instead, it felt like something magical I got to do. Growing up, I was heavily inspired by Nancy Drew. I would get lost in those mystery novels. I also spent a great deal of my free time composing my own stories and plays, with which I liked to entertain the local children. Books have always been my constant companion.

As an adult, my love of reading is stronger than ever. I am a big supporter of Inprint, a pro-literacy organization based in Houston that offers a vast variety of programming that ranges from author presentations to writing workshops. The written word is so powerful and it’s important to teach our youth from an early age how much words matter. Books unlock doors to fresh ideas and new opportunities. Encouraging others to enjoy reading really inspires me, too. In America today, 21% of adults are struggling with literacy issues, and children with low literacy are sadly more prone to showing behavioral issues and getting low grades.

Today’s readers will be the leaders of tomorrow. And nothing exemplifies that more than the brilliant writings of President Barack Obama. His autobiographies are some of the most magnificent works I’ve read. He writes with strength and he does it from the heart. While he reflects on his motivations in seeking political office he remains humble. It’s something I think all world leaders could learn from.

Reading is also a major stress reliever for me. I tend to reenergize myself by reading quietly. Traveling the globe as often as I do, I like to pack a good book alongside my camera.

There have been many books I’ve read that impacted my life. While I have a penchant for reading books penned by Scandinavian mystery writers such as Jo Nesbø and Karin Fossum, I also enjoy reading books by American Irish author Tana French. She really has a wonderful way of creating characters in unforgettable predicaments. I thoroughly enjoyed her novel The Searcher.

I’m also a fan of Anthony Trollope’s The Warden and 19th-century English literature. I also count Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility among my favorite books.

I am also into true crime books. Last year, I read Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.

Aside from being an enjoyable activity, reading on the regular promotes a slew of mind and body benefits such as improving brain connectivity, building vocabulary, aiding in sleep, and even adding to overall longevity for humans. Reading also prevents cognitive decline and gives you a much-needed break from screen time. Overdoing it with computer screens, tablets, and smartphones isn’t easy on the eyes. Too much can lead to headaches and blurred vision, and many experts advise limiting screen time to less than a couple of hours daily.

I think it’s amazing how books can really affect our lives and even elevate us when we’re in different situations. I think if we all spent more time reading books, the world would be an even more beautiful place. We would be asking more constructive questions and contributing in ways we could only dream about doing without the written word. It’s also incredible to fathom that the greatest stories haven’t even been written yet. There is still so much more to learn. Books are truly the GPS to anywhere your imagination can take you.