As inhabitants of a modern world we read hundreds of text messages, emails and trashy articles on our phones every day. We can sit through a TV box set in one evening and play video games to our hearts’ content. But when was the last time we sat down with a good book?
If you’re only reading when you have to, you could be missing out on the great variety of benefits experienced by regular readers. Here’s why:
1) It Makes you a Better Writer
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” These are the words of novelist, Stephen King, who has published 54 novels and 200 short stories. Writers should always be reading something. Reading exposes you to different writing styles and techniques. These can help to shape your own writing, whether you choose to emulate or avoid them.
2) It Expands Your Vocabulary
The more you read, the more new words you incorporate into your own vocabulary. With a wealth of words at your disposal, you’ll find it much easier to express what you want to say, either in person or in writing.
3) It Helps You To Relax
A 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes could reduce stress levels by up to 68%, slowing down the heartbeat and easing tension in the muscles. A great novel can transport you to other places and help you to forget every day struggles and stresses.
4) It Helps You To Sleep
Reading before bed helps you to fall asleep more easily, whilst the bright light of TV and phone screens have the opposite effect. A bedtime ritual of settling down with a good book will start to signal to your body that it’s time to prepare for sleep. Some people’s bodies get so good at sensing the signals that they can only manage a few pages before nodding off.
5) It Gives Your Brain Exercise
Like any other muscle in your body, your brain needs exercise to work to its best potential. “Use it or lose it,” goes the saying! Staying mentally stimulated has been shown to reduce your chances and slow the progress of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Reading can also improve your focus and concentration.
6) It Improves Your Memory
When you read a book, there are lots of things to remember. Characters, locations, relationships, sub plots and the arc of the main story. Remembering these things creates new pathways in the brain. This acts as a kind of brain training and improves your memory for real life events too.
7) It Teaches Us About People and the World
Whether you’re reading fact or fiction, books can teach us so much about other people and the world around us. Books can tell us about history and the present day, give new perspectives on a particular issue or reveal ways of life we rarely come into contact with. Reading makes us more empathetic as we try to understand character motivations in a novel, and more aware of our own personalities as we compare our own feelings to those we come across in the book.
From childhood into old age, there are so many reasons to get lost in a good book. Besides the obvious entertainment value of a great page turner, there are advantages that transcend the time we spend reading. We can take benefits in health, brain power and emotional intelligence from the pages of a book, back with us into the real world, and continue to enjoy that enrichment each and every day.
BIO: Kate Thora is a Senior Content Specialist for Uphours, an online resource with information about companies. In her spare time, she loves writing and painting while surrounded by nature. Follow her on Twitter @katethora1.