I read lots of books when I was growing up, especially fiction and fantasy novels. I am proud to say that Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings series were part of my upbringing. Books also shaped my life; I picked English literature when choosing what to study at university.
I've never looked back. Sure, I've had some doubts when people say degrees such as business or law lead to better career options. But there is a lot of value in studying the humanities, too.
Some people say it is a waste of time to study literature. Why do we need to read, for example, medieval poetry? Why study books written in old-fashioned language?
As a final year literature student, I would say the reason is to learn about the human condition. I love how literature explores human nature. It covers the most important things in life, including death, love and family.
I love to read the 18th century poetry of William Wordsworth for its human emotion. I love the novels of Charles Dickens for the way they raise important social issues. By reading, I learn about the world and its history.
Reading is also about being able to understand the thoughts and experiences of authors from all over the world.
Reading American literature from the past shows me what people thought of slavery at the time. Jane Austen's novels teach me about society in 19th century England. Harry Potter reflects the values of good and evil and the importance of love. Dystopian novels, like 1984 or modern series like The Hunger Games and Divergent, show us the value of freedom and human rights.
Reading literature has also changed the way I think. Now I question everything, and explore the connections between different areas. It has improved my knowledge of history, the law, philosophy and the human body. And I've gained language skills which I can use throughout my life.
Literature truly goes beyond time and space. So the next time you have some free time, ditch the phone, laptop and TV. Instead, curl up with a blanket and a book. You might just be amazed at the journey that a book can take you on.