WATCH: The healing power of reading books

As we remain fixated on our mobile devices and computer displays, the act of picking up a good book is becoming less and less common.

In a world where social media dominates our every waking moment, the simple pleasure of getting lost in a good book seems to have been forgotten. We spend hours scrolling through our feeds, comparing ourselves to others, and feeling the weight of the world’s problems on our shoulders.

But for Paballo Seipei, founder of the Paballo Seipei Book Club, reading is more than just a pastime. It’s a tool for improving mental health and well-being, a way to escape the negativity of the world and find joy in the written word.

The Birth of the Paballo Seipei Book Club

On 31 October 2020, during a period of lockdown where restrictions were slowly starting to be eased in the country, Paballo Seipei established the Paballo Seipei Book Club as a means of finding solace and comfort through reading.

Despite her personal love for reading, she desired to share this passion with others who could understand and relate to her experiences.

Paballo Seipei, the founder of Paballo’s book club reads a book. Picture: Nigel Sibanda.

“I started the book club because people were craving a social life. During lockdown people could not go anywhere which resulted in people losing themselves in their homes and for me what helped was reading books a lot at the time.

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” I used to do book reviews and would share on my WhatsApp statuses. I would ask people whether they are interested in joining my book club and from that, I got a few people I would start my book club with,” said Paballo.

Paballo Seipei, with the co-founder of Paballo Seipei’s Book Club Lebohang Nxumalo shares insights on the books they are reading. Picture: Nigel Sibanda.

The Importance of reading in a digital age

In a world where social media reigns supreme, the art of reading seems to have taken a backseat.

With our noses buried in our phones and eyes glued to screens, it’s becoming increasingly rare to see people pick up a good book.

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But why settle for scrolling through endless feeds and binge-watching TV shows when you can escape into the pages of a captivating story?

Founder and co-founder of Paballo Seipei’s Book Club: Paballo Seipei and Lebohang Nxumalo. Picture: Nigel Sibanda.

Paballo highlights the significance of reading and its potential advantages for individuals.

“It is really important to read books because, for me, it increased my vocabulary and enabled me to be able to socialise better.

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“We currently have eight members in the book club and in our first meeting, we did not know each other well because we came from different backgrounds, but through reading books we are now like sisters, there’s nothing you can do to us and it is a culture I would like us to grow as a society because it is really beneficial,” elaborated Paballo.

The therapeutic benefits of reading for mental health

Paballo Seipei and Lebohang Nxumalo laugh while reading their books. Picture: Nigel Sibanda.

Lebohang Nxumalo, a co-founder and member of Paballo Seipei’s Book Club, discussed some of the notable moments from her reading journey and how it has had a transformative impact on her life.

“Reading is very therapeutic. With mental illness, it is more of the thoughts that are going through your mind and when you idling mentally, you end up thinking a lot and that’s when you get anxiety and other mental health issues.

“But when I am reading, my mind gets busy because I am concentrating and absorbing what I am reading, so it takes my mind away from other things that may trigger my anxiety,” stated Lebohang.

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