Scientific studies have shown that reading can reduce stress by almost 68 percent. So, this is a timely reminder for the millions across Europe putting their “out-of-office” messages on and packing for summer holidays with family and friends. After long months of hectic balancing of work and family commitments, the time has come to (at least try to) unwind and recharge.
Whether you are soaking up the sun on a beach, hiking in the mountains or taking in the sights and sounds of a city break, the summer holidays are a perfect moment to catch up on a good read and immerse yourself in thrilling fiction, a touching memoir or a compelling recounting of history.
The summer is one of the peak times for the publishing industry, where sales surge. For publishers and booksellers, timing is everything, as it is with many other market endeavours. A lot of work must be put in to strategically and effectively promote a book before it comes to market, ensuring potential customers have a range of options that meet their discerning tastes.
The advent of e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle also open new opportunities. For summer holiday makers it means they can pack more titles in their densely compacted suitcases. More adventurous lightly packed travellers also don’t go without titles to read at a café or by candlelight under the stars.
Editors must walk a delicate tight rope for summer readers. Books must be enjoyable page-turners, but also be moving, riveting experiences that leave a lasting impression on the reader.
But why is reading so important?
The CEO of the British Exploring Society Honor Wilson-Fletcher, once said that reading “opens doors and makes life easier”. Reading allows us to think outside of our immediate concerns, deadlines and worries, and helps us take a broader and more empathetic view of the world around us. Equally, while the summer holidays are certainly an opportunity to unwind and enjoy, they are also a valuable opportunity to come together and spend quality time with loved ones.
Both experiences complement each other, going hand in hand to rejuvenate our spirits and focus for the year ahead. Leaders from a range of backgrounds all testify that such qualities are integral traits for those who are successful in life – in business or otherwise.
It is important to instil the value of reading into the next generation. There are some amazing international initiatives afoot. The New York Times invites teenagers from around the world, through an annual ‘commentary’ contest, to add it to their summer reading lists and nearly 50,000 have done so since 2010. Meanwhile in the UK, children aged 4 to 11 are encourages to read six library books during their summer holidays as part of the Summer Reading Challenge.
In Azerbaijan, the TEAS Press Publishing House has an array of new titles ready for those who read in Azerbaijani, Turkish and Russian to take away on their holidays. The Libraff chain of bookstores, which can be found across the country, has been working hard to promote young writing talent from across the Caucasus and Turkey.
On my personal list is Courier from Baghdad, a thrilling spy tale from Chingiz Abdullayev’s immensely popular Drongo series. The protagonist is a counter-terrorism operative employed by the secret services to thwart terrorist plots, who draws paradoxical conclusions from the smallest details. More than just a spy thriller, it is a tale of how an operative under pressure meets the demands of his conscience and protects the values in which he believes.
So, as you switch off and relax, make sure you allow enough time and space for a good book, because it may well be the most valuable part of your holiday.