November 1 is home to a quiet and important holiday: National Author’s Day. In 1949, the United States Department of Commerce officially recognized the holiday 20 years after Nellie Verne Burt McPherson of the Illinois Women’s Club began pushing for National Author’s Day. The holiday provides a designated time to honor authors. We can do so by writing (or tweeting) a thank-you note to our favorite authors, purchasing new and old books alike, or working on our own writing projects. Enthusiasts encourage use of the hashtag #NationalAuthorsDay.

Both fiction and nonfiction books have the potential to enrich our personal and professional lives on many levels. Here are five priceless gifts we can thank authors for on this holiday:

  1. Broadened Perspective Books contain not only a gold mine of knowledge, but also insight into perspectives besides your own. Reading intercultural guides, such as Access to Asia, or translated foreign novels, such as Cabo de Gata, can introduce you to cultures, lifestyles, and different styles of thinking from all over the globe (without the costly air fare). 
  2. Enhanced Interpersonal Skills It’s a well known fact that avid readers build stronger vocabularies. Readers also benefit from enhanced communication and writing skills, as well as benefiting from natural and impressive conversation starters. In professional networking settings, books, especially those with intercultural elements, provide excellent conversation pathways. A passion for reading books shows intellect and dynamism.
  3. Improved Focus In today’s internet-run world, many are used to instant gratification. We can scroll through ten “clickbait” articles in 5 minutes while simultaneously flipping through Instagram and Pinterest notifications, not truly dedicating our minds to any of these tasks. Focusing our attention on a printed novel takes us away from the busy digital world, forces us to concentrate, and boosts our ability to focus and reject distractions.
  4. Self Care For many, self care consists of watching a few Netflix episodes before bed or Skyping a distant friend. While these activities are excellent stress reducers, they still tie us to a device. CNN reports that the average American spends over 10 hours a day looking at a digital screen. Books provide a relaxing and intellectually stimulating outlet that gives your eyes a break from screen time.
  5. Internal Reflection When we focus on a printed book, the numerous buzzing distractions that we’re typically surrounded by disappear. It’s just you and the book. Reading novels allows us to work our imagination muscles and create a world inside our heads. This personal time helps us discover both a new story and a better understanding of ourselves.

The list of gifts authors provide us goes on–this is far from a comprehensive account of the various ways books enrich our lives. Professionals, students, and retirees alike can celebrate #NationalAuthorsDay on November 1 by tweeting a “thank you” at their favorite author.

Sharon Schweitzer and Emilie Lostracco co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Emilie Lostracco is a Fall 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication Intern with Access to Culture. The Montreal native is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, studying International Relations and Global Studies. Emilie specializes in international environmental efforts, European studies, and French. She plans on graduating with honors in December. Connect with her via Linkedin.