Stop reading for a minute, and think. Ponder over why you like to read. Is it because books are a form of entertainment or an opportunity to learn about a subject you want to explore? Is reading a necessity, or something you do only to impress the people around you?
Regardless of the reason, reading adds to our mental well-being, presenting us with possibilities to slip away for a moment from the maddening world we inhabit. There are undoubtedly several benefits of reading that we all know about but also a few that we take for granted.
Why is reading important? For starters, it can save your life by reducing everyday stress. Stress, an unavoidable part of our daily routine, is one of the leading causes of heart disease. How we tackle stress is up to us, and reading is one of the easiest ways to do that. A study conducted by the University of Sussex in 2009 found that as little as 6 minutes of reading can help decrease blood pressure, normalize heart rate, and reduce overall stress by 68%.
Since a reduction in stress levels is an outcome of reading books or magazines, it also leads to a relaxing sleep pattern. Reading books doesn’t necessarily help you fall asleep, quite the opposite if the story is thrilling and suspenseful, but it does result in a calm and restful night.
Not just reading, but also activities around it can result in enhancing our mood. Many book lovers find visiting bookshops, browsing through rows of books, and buying books to be comforting. The excitement at the start of a novel and the myriad emotions one feels at the end all work towards positive mental health, leaving us in an uplifting state of mind.
Coming across new words, learning different sentence structures, and understanding the intricacies of a language are some of the more obvious reasons why reading is important. Indulging in books improves our vocabulary that often unknowingly becomes a part of our daily conversations. Reading helps us express ourselves eloquently, boosting our confidence as we use our newfound knowledge to the best of our abilities in real life.
In a technologically advanced, fast-moving world, reading physical books is an opportunity to step away from screens. Even though the latest book trends show a shift towards eBooks, most eReader screens are still better than mobile and computer ones.
Moreover, reading a book helps exercise the eyes as they move from line to line, up and down the page, focusing on words from time to time. Unlike watching TV, wherein we tend to blink less, reading in good light and taking occasional breaks does more good than harm for the eyes.
Amongst the most important benefits of reading is that it lets us visualize worlds that do not exist. When we read a novel, our mind works on creating places and characters based on the story. We allow our imagination to run wild, creativity seeps in as new ideas develop, keeping our brains active and engaged.
One answer to why reading is important is that it evokes empathy. When we read, we gain knowledge about various places, cultures, and people. We learn to see similarities that exist beneath superficial differences. As our opinion of the world changes, so do our feelings towards others. Reading, in a way, is a great unifier. It can transform our beliefs and make us more caring and open towards distinct perspectives.
To keep the brain functioning at its maximum capacity, we must keep it active. One of the benefits of reading is that it occupies and stimulates the mind, forcing it to stay involved and energetic. Such is the impact of reading that research has shown it helps fight Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Furthermore, reading adds to the overall brain functionality by improving our memory, particularly short-term. When going through a book, we are likely to come across multiple characters, names, and events that the brain then continues to recollect. These new “memories” result in the formation of brain pathways that strengthen critical thinking useful in our day to day lives.
Spending time reading a book or even an article in the newspaper is an escape we all need from time to time. We typically function in a state of consciousness that is continuously multi-tasking, our thoughts all over the place. Reading takes us away from it all, sharpens our analytical skills, and assists us by keeping our focus and concentration on one single task.
It doesn’t matter if you are a high school student or a first-time author, reading books can improve your writing. Many a quote from great writers point towards the benefits of reading and how it has helped refine their writing skills to produce some of the world’s best literary works. Quite simply, the more you read, the better you understand the subtleties of writing and the basics of creating a tale that captures the audience’s imagination from the start to the very end.
Reading books is an individual activity that can lead to several possible social interactions. Whether it is starting a book club with other bibliophiles, attending book festivals, author talks, or visiting a coffee shop to discuss the latest novel with a friend, there are plenty of options to get involved and get talking about books and reading.
Sometimes you don’t have to search for other benefits of reading and just enjoy it for what it is, a form of entertainment. A fun short-story that makes you laugh, a bit of flash fiction, a poem that is deep and meaningful, or a graphic novel that adds a visual element to your reading experience, it can be anything your heart desires.