A few weekends ago I stopped by a book sale while beach vacationing with my friends. I wasn’t as excited by the varied offerings as my friends were, and found myself joking about how enthralling the tween romance novels with brightly colored pink and green covers seemed. Despite my distracted mood, at the checkout I was disappointed that I was only picking up one title while my friends had stacks of books. Americans spend, on average, just 19 minutes a day reading—and I realized that I was part of that trend. Maybe it was time for me to start flipping pages rather than swiping right and refreshing the newsfeed. Here are seven reasons why you should start Reading more.
Keeping Your Brain Healthy
Just like your body, your mind requires frequent exercise to stay strong and agile. Reading is an excellent brain workout, particularly if you like to challenge yourself with complex material. Keeping track of information, subplots, and characters engages your focus and muscle memory, which strengthens your ability to mentally multitask and keeps you sharp. There’s also evidence that reading can prevent cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Knowledge and Insight
Even if you only read for entertainment, chances are you’ll end up learning something along the way. Reading books is one of the best ways to absorb new information. The more information you’ve got stored in your mind, the more you become aware of how seemingly differently topics may be related. Reading can help take you to another time and place without the cost of a plane or train ticket.
Increasing Your Focus
Spending a chunk of time with a book takes concentration, especially if you’re not in the habit of reading. As you train yourself to block out distraction and mental chatter while reading, your focus and discipline get stronger. This increased mental stamina lets you read longer, and the benefits carry over into other areas of life. You might find that you get distracted less often at work, or that you’re better at following through on the goals you set.
Improving Your Writing and Communication Skills
Reading adds words to your vocabulary and helps you internalize the mechanics of grammar and sentence structure. When you’re regularly immersing yourself in books, you inevitably pick up good communication skills along the way. It can also improve your ability to express yourself clearly and argue persuasively. Whether you’re an aspiring novelist or you want to communicate more effectively with colleagues, reading helps you achieve your writing and speaking goals.
Change Your Outlook
People who read regularly are often more empathetic than those who don’t. Books open up worlds beyond our everyday experience, providing a unique opportunity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Reading about other people’s trials, suffering, and growth can make you feel more connected with others, even if the events of a book don’t resemble anything you’ve personally lived.
Relax and De-stress
Besides its many other benefits, reading can be fun when you find the right book! It’s a more stimulating source of entertainment than TV because it requires more imagination, and if you have a library card or e-book subscription service, it’s cheaper than almost any other hobby out there. Reading also gives you a mental break from whatever is going on in your life. Whether your day-to-day routine is hectic or boring, a book provides an instant escape into another world.
Connecting with Others
Reading gives you instant common ground with strangers, relatives, and friends. As a reader, you’ll be able to chat with people about the great novel or fascinating magazine article you just finished, instead of resorting to talking about the weather or the latest gossip about Selena Gomez. Consider joining or starting a book club to meet fellow bookworms!
It takes some effort to make books a part of your life alongside day-to-day obligations and distractions like the internet, reality TV, and the office, but these benefits of reading will make the investment worthwhile.