Benefits of reading

Reading is perhaps the oldest way of sharing ideas and experiences. It is also one of the oldest ways of entrainment. Books are a great way of passing time and learning something new. And I have seen people ignoring the benefits of reading. Many people just choose watching TV or binge-watching shows their entire free time. The result? They just got entertained for a few hours and that’s it. No new idea, nothing new substantial. 

The Problem with Watching Vs Reading

I am not suggesting that watching a show or a movie cannot possibly help you. Sometimes shows are some of the best ways to learn something. Sometimes for some people, watching something can be even better than reading. But there is a risk factor associated it watching shows or movies, even if they are educational. 

When you are watching something, you are most probably laying on your couch or the bed, eating something, and just looking at the screen, enjoying the show. And this keeps you pilling into this vortex that is so hard to get out from. As a result, you find that you have wasted 3 hours, just laying there.

This is not the case with reading a good book and is one of the benefits of reading. Try it yourself, try reading a book while eating something. Or try reading while laying down on your bed. It is tough. Reading requires you to be in an attentive position and while you can drink coffee to prevent slumber, you cannot eat something properly while reading. And that is one of its benefits. But there are other sciences backed benefits that I’ll be sharing with you. I’ll also list what to do when reading is tough for you and a good place to start.

Benefits of Reading Books.

I’ll be listing some of the best benefits of reading books and why you should get up and start reading a book right after you finish reading this. Here are the benefits.

Reading makes you more eloquent. 

When you read multiple books, you are exposed to multiple forms and styles of writing. Reading these books makes your brain take up the style and implements it in on speaking. As a result, you will notice that the way you speak has changed. Now you are better at expressing your ideas and feelings. This is all due to you reading thousands of words every day. 

Reading makes you imaginative. 

When you watching a movie, all the imaginative work has been down by the people making the movie. This is why you love watching great movies because it has been imagined well. But when it comes to books, yes the author has to imagine the scenes, but your mind is not content with the black and white of the book, it asks for more color. This makes you imagine a scene you are reading. Not just that, you have to create each line, each scene in your mind. This is like an imagining exercise. This makes you a more creative, imaginative and productive person. 

Knowledge is the greatest wealth. 

People spend money on many things that do not even give back the value they had been bought for. But when it comes to books, it gives way more than it asks for. Books are comparatively cheaper and easily available. And books give you a lot of fo knowledge. This is something that goes a long way because most of the people stop learning once they graduate from college. Books provide this knowledge and knowledge is the things you should fill your mind with. 

It makes you a more interesting person.

When you are eloquent and have a lot of knowledge from different fields, you automatically become an interesting person to talk to. This is one of the most socially helpful benefits of reading. Reading opens up a new perspective and feeds you with a lot of wisdom.
Imagine a person who is very limited in the things he/she knows. Holding an interesting conversation with them would be extremely difficult. But with people who know a lot can strike up some interesting topic within seconds and keep the conversation fresh. Reading can improve your social interaction skills.

A girl reading a book near the windows.
Image: Rahul Shah

Stress Reduction

Ask anyone who is a reader what is his/her best method to reduce stress and I am sure he/she will say it is reading. Reading can calm the stressed mind and there is a good reason behind it. See, a stressed mind is a mind that is over-thinking about many things at the same time. This is what causes stress. But when you are reading and are engrossed in a book, you need to invest all your focus in it. No brainpower left to think about other things. 

A study done by the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes can decrease stress levels by 68% and that is a lot.

Improved Focus and Concentration.

This benefit of reading is probably the most needed one in today’s world. Think about it, you have to attend to your emails, while you take your protein bar. At the same time you check a message from a colleague or friend and you get a notification on Instagram about someone going live. If this wasn’t enough, you have a snap from one of your friends that you need to open. All of this has to be attended to within a few minutes. 

Reading books is the complete opposite of this. You sit down and calmly enjoy the book with your focus and concentration because a well-written book needs your focus. I remover reading Brian Cox’s Forces of Nature and he presented the reader with a graph from one of his experiments (Cox is a particle physicist at CERN). Trust me, I had to read it 6 times before I got a hang of it and my ears were all warmed up trying to understand it. That’s the kind of focus (not this much) books require.
Improving focus and concentration is necessary if you want to succeed in any field, be it studying, business, anything. These tasks (reading, writing, painting, etc) are the only tasks that increase concentration. 

You become a better writer

You may think that becoming a better writer? Why is it included in the list of benefits of reading? It does not have a wider appeal. But it does. Getting better at writing isn’t for writers, but for anyone who wants to communicate with people and communicating is a skill everyone needs. Reading books gives you an idea of writing because these two (reading and wiring) are different sides of the same coin. Read more and you’ll see that you can write much better. Try this – Read two or three pages of any book, I’d recommend Charles Dickens. And then right after reading, try writing a paragraph about something. You’ll notice how better you have become in writing and expressing. 

Reading calms you mentally 

In a study published by The Wall Street Journal, it was seen that studying something spiritual can lower your blood pressure. So the benefits of reading aren’t just for a healthy mind, they’re for a healthy body too. Many books will guide you towards finding a better, more awakened you. Reading some self-help book not only help you become a better person, but they also help you get out of a difficult situation in your life. 

Books expose you to a variety of subjects. 

Think about the genres of movies or shows. They are all limited to comedy, action, drama, etc. The genres are unusually limited to eight or ten at maximum. But when it comes to books and written pieces, the genres are hundreds. This is because it is easy to make written pieces and hence a people can write about a variety of things. So you get exposure to hundreds of different topics. 

Reading can make you sleep better.

It has been proven that making reading a habit before going to bed improves the quality of sleep. Plus it also helps you doze off quickly. This is needed sorely in today’s world because most of us have made our phones and laptops our bedtime companion.
Reading here means you have to read actual physical books and not E-books. Read a book for ten to fifteen minutes before going to bed and it would not only help you get the benefits of reading but also a good sleep.

A woman reading an e-book. Benefits of reading.
E-Book readers can hamper your sleep. Image: Picjumbo

Reading can prevent Alzheimer’s disease 

Reading books, playing chess and solving puzzles could be two and a half times less likely to develop the debilitating Alzheimer’s disease (). This is due to the stimulation of your brain that reading books and other mentioned activities require. See how many and impactful benefits of reading are there? 

It is entertaining 

Reading a good book will keep you entertained for alt least weeks and if it is a fantasy novel, then for months. You can go at your own pace and re-read something that you liked very much. Plus there’s no schedule to stick to and you can read it wherever you are, whenever you want. You don’t need a data connection, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, laptops, nothing. Just one book and that’s it. All you need to keep yourself entertained and busy. Plus with all the benefits, it is a win-win 

Reading Sharpens your mind 

Reading more types and numbers of books makes your mind think and imagine. This is like a workout for your brain and hence, it strengthens it, like a muscle that strengthens after exercise. A sharp mind helps you react quickly in a difficult situation and make the right decision. A sharp mind always gives you the advantage. So go ahead, sharpen your mind. The book is like a whetstone and your mind is your weapon.

Reading boosts memory

When you are reading a book, you have to remember a lot. If it is fiction, then you have to remember the character names, plot, all the subplots, etc. If it is a non-fiction book, then you have to understand what the author is trying to make us understand. In both cases, your memory needs to work to keep everything in while you read the book and after you’ve read it. So the more you read, the more memory capacity you get. 

How to manage book fatigue 

For people who are looking to get into reading, one of the biggest fear is the book fatigue. This is the effort people have to put to sit down and read a long book. Their minds are never used to sitting down and focusing on books. To avoid that, the best advice I give is to go for a very thin book, preferably a classic. 

The first cover edition of Animal Farm
Animal Farm. Image: Public domain

The one book I recommend every new reader is Animal Farm by George Orwell. The book is about 70-80 pages long and is fast-paced. It is also a political satire so you get something valuable and interesting from the book as well. Metamorphosis and Brave New World are some other recommendations, but these are a bit complicated and new readers won’t like it that much. 

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