“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”
― Carl Sagan
Whether it’s a newspaper, a simple online article, a nook book, magazine, or novel, there’s a reason you should keep reading long after you’re required to. In fact, here’s five reasons why you should consider reading more.
1. Brain Exercise
The visual aspect of reading exercises the occipital lobe which helps imagination, creativity, and decision making. Reading also helps with communication skills and reading comprehension. No matter what job you have you’ll probably have to read, write, or verbally communicate in some form or fashion. These skills can all be improved by exercising your brain through reading. So not only do you gain more knowledge but you also improve important aspects of your life.
2. Reduces Stress
It’s no surprise to those who read for pleasure that reading is a great way to de-stress. Whether it’s a horror, a romance, biography, or fantasy, there’s a genre that interests everyone.
“A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. This is because your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague your daily life.” –Reading for Stress Relief
For this to work you have pick something that you actually like to read. If the newspaper stresses you out then read about your favorite hobby. In the digital age it’s easier than ever to find great stories.
3. Attention Span
The Statistic Brain Research Institute lists the average attention span in 2015 to be around 8.25 seconds. In 2000 the average attention span was around 12 seconds (source). This is linked to the way that we now receive information and the changes in technology. Focusing on a book for 15-30 minutes a day lets you focus on one immersive task at a time which in turn helps your attention span.
“Literature with complex, developed themes and characters appears to let readers occupy or adopt perspectives they might otherwise not consider…” –Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter
Studies like the one done by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology show that reading Harry Potter has proven to increase empathy. But it’s not just Harry Potter that does this. Any book that gets you to examine the life of someone different from yourself helps to develop empathy.
It’s been told many times that readers get to experience a million lives and live in a million different places. Well, in the life outside of books, readers have also developed better ways of communicated with others.
The world is enormous! There are tons of cultures and personalities interacting with each other on a daily basis. If you could learn to understand and better communicate with the people around you, wouldn’t you?
There are lots of reasons why you should read more but I think one of the most important reasons is gaining more knowledge. There’s been many times where I just wanted to read a book for fun and found myself learning something new in the process. From gardening to 1800’s Russian society, the learning is endless! Whether you pick up a book with the intention to learn or not, you’ll always learn something new.
This new found knowledge could be skills, human nature, societies, different cultural practices, and so much more.
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin
Whatever or however you read, the point is to read.