All of us have likely encountered articles with suggestions of changing bad habits and which healthy ones we should adapt. One of those healthy habits that often can be overlooked is reading books.
Who wouldn’t like to snuggle up with a cozy blanket, hot cup of coffee or your favorite tea and a nice, good book? Well, I do. And if you do too, there are several benefits to do so – besides getting lost in a different world or learning a new subject.
Reading books will strengthen your brain and improve memory
Reading can literally (pun intended) change your mind. Keeping your brain active by reading, solving puzzles or doing crosswords will prevent it from losing power. Being mentally stimulated can slow down the natural aging of the brain. It is a muscle and like the other muscles in our bodies it requires exercise to stay healthy and strong.
When reading fiction, you have to remember the character’s names and stories in order to keep up with plots. New memories strengthen existing brain waves (called synapses) or form new ones, which improves the short-term memory. That is just super cool!
Reading books promotes empathy
When we read about others, their experiences and emotions, we are subjected to their views and it can impact our empathy. It can make it easier for us to relate to others, especially when we read fiction compared to non-fiction. Fiction puts us into stories where the character’s inner lives are being explored. Understanding the way others feel or why they behave the way that they do is an essential skill we need in our lives, and reading can help us do so. It takes us from our own environment into other, different ones.
Reading books will expand your vocabulary and make you a better writer
The more you read, the more words you will learn. When you learn more words and how to use them, you communicate better. People who communicate better have an easier time making themselves understood and are more likely to get hired or promoted, than those who have smaller vocabularies. In any profession, being well-spoken with the knowledge that you can speak with confidence is a great booster for your self-esteem.
The more you read – especially when it has a great quality to it – the better of a writer you will become. We get subconsciously influenced by the writing materials we consume. If you continuously read badly written material, your writing will get worse. But if you do the opposite, your own writing will improve.
Reading books reduces stress
Several studies show that reading will make you feel more relaxed and reduce stress. When lost in a book, we let go of the stressors and worries in our daily lives. The work-related problems, difficulties in relationships or other issues will no longer have the focus when lost in a good book. It can also give you new perspectives of your own problems, which can be stress-reducing. If you have trouble finding the time to read, you could set aside 30 minutes before going to bed to do so. Swap that aimless scrolling on social media for something much better: a good book!
Reading books can reduce symptoms of depression
Having depression often means that you feel isolated, misunderstood or estranged from others, or the world. Books can help lessen the lonely feeling if the experience is that others have been through it as well. Maybe a character in a book is going through something similar, or a non-fictional one describes common depressive symptoms, which are relatable.
Simply reading can provide a temporary escape from the current reality.
Reading books can improve concentration
When we read, we are forced to concentrate on the text in front of us. It has become so easy for us to be distracted by our phones or anything else in our lives and we are used to multi-task. When reading, we can’t multi-task. We need to focus and concentrate and train our brain to do so. This can be applicable when performing other tasks that needs our focus and attention.
Reading books will give you more knowledge
By reading we will gain more knowledge and the earlier we begin the more we will be exposed to new worlds, beliefs and could lead us to score higher on reading tests. Reading teaches us something we didn’t previously know. The more stuff we know, the better we are at dealing with challenges in life. And wouldn’t you say that it’s way more interesting to talk with people who read a lot, than those who obviously haven’t opened a book since high school?
There is so much to learn from books and every single topic imagineable can be found in a book (if not, feel free to write one yourself – I believe in you!).
Reading books can be free!
You don’t have to buy books to read books. Use libraries, borrow from friends or maybe re-read the ones you have and love.
Books will always be there for you to pick up. They will not run out of battery, cause trouble because of a cracked display or getting lost among other files. Of course, there is always the possibility of losing it among your other wonderful, endless piles of books, but that’s a risk most of us are willing to take.
When I was about 11 years old, I read 50 books in one summer break. Yeah, 50. I had a severe phobia for snakes, which deteriorated that summer and made me not want to leave the house. So, I did what any normal kid would do, I picked up some really good books – like Nancy Drew (I did mention I was 11 at this time, right?). Also, there were no smart phones back in these days to occupy the kids. You could either stay at home and read, or go outside to play.
While reading these books, I noticed how I was able to read faster and faster, and it improved both my vocabulary and writing skills (which I am told was noticeable in school). At the end of the summer I did some behavioral therapy and got rid of my phobia. I still love to read and do it as much as I can, but I’ve never felt stuck like that again. This past summer I read 15 books in two months (a new record in my adult life!), so stay tuned for my upcoming article about my favorite books of 2020!
“The more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go”
– Dr. Seuss
What is the best book you have read recently?
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