5 Benefits of Reading and Why It’s Important
The world needs books and so does your brain.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”
— George R.R. Martin
I used to hate reading. I thought it was dumb and boring. I was about nine when I thought that, which explains why I was so wrong.
As a writer and self-published author, it only makes sense that I now love reading. It’s the most underrated form of entertainment around. Unfortunately, it also takes the most focus.
It’s much easier to play a game or put on Disney Plus than it is to sit down and focus on a bunch of words. I get that the world is too hyperactive for the stationary act of reading, but that doesn’t change how important it is.
Reading can be classified as entertainment, but it’s so much more. It’s relaxing, eye-opening, and can even be mind-blowing. There are so many benefits to get from it that you’d be doing your brain a disservice by not giving it a try.
And if you’ve read this far, you clearly enjoy reading. Now you’ve just got to do it with a book and you’re all set.
Let’s jump into a few reasons why reading is more important than anyone thinks. This means that we’re gonna explore how reading can give you the brain boost that you’ve always wanted.
1. It’ll Reduce Stress and Depression
Since it counts as entertainment, it seems obvious that reading would reduce stress. However, it’s stress-relieving properties go way beyond that.
When you read, you’re so focused on the story that it pulls your mind away from the outside world. All of your troubles and worries disappear and are replaced by the fictional world that you’re now inhabiting.
The same goes for nonfiction books. Getting lost in a good read is so relaxing that it can happen with any kind of book, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Reading combats stress because it:
- Is about 300% better at eliminating stress than taking a walk.
- Only requires six minutes per day to be stress-relieving.
- Is also more effective than listening to music, playing games, and drinking tea.
For these reasons, reading is also great at reducing depression. In fact, it’s so relaxing that it’ll also help you sleep better. A relaxed brain has a much easier time shutting off than a stressed and restless one.
2. It’ll Teach You a Whole Bunch of Words
Yeah, I know that not everyone is actively seeking to broaden their vocabulary. However, you never know when you’ll run into a mysterious term on the job, or need a certain word to sum what you’re trying to say.
Books are great at expanding your vocabulary in a variety of ways. Both the characters and the author will often use words you don’t know to describe something. Not fancy, overcomplicated words (which is what a bad author would do), but just words you don’t hear a lot like yoke, gregarious, or sylvan.
Most characters also make extensive use of foreign slang and mannerisms. If I’m reading a book by a British author, their characters will use slang that I never would have seen otherwise.
You won’t see the vocabulary expansion right away, but after a day of looking up words you don’t understand, you’ll feel the change.
3. It’ll Help You Concentrate
Perfect focus is the one ability that everyone wants. Concentration affects every area of your life. It’s what will separate an accomplished writer from someone who writes well but never publishes anything.
Reading improves your ability to focus because it’s essentially a workout. As you read, you’re focused on each individual word to follow along with the story.
While it’s beneficial to your focusing skills, it also has a limit. The longer you read, the harder it is to focus. That’s why you get to the point where you read a whole page but don’t remember a thing about its contents.
If you stop following along with the book, just take a second to recollect yourself and read it again. Directing your mind back to the task at hand will improve your focus every time. It’s like a mental pushup.
4. It’ll Make You a Better Writer
I mentioned that reading is mandatory for writers, and I wasn’t kidding. Reading will expose you to a variety of different writing styles, allowing you to learn from other writers. If you write fantasy, open a fantasy book to see how it’s done.
You’ll also learn about what goes into a well-written story, how long chapters should be, and so much more. Whenever I doubt something I’ve written, I’ll read to see how other authors handled my problem. This is how I come up with most of my solutions.
A good book will also provide you with a boost of motivation. It’s hard to feel pumped about writing all the time, so being reminded of why you do it is always a treat.
Since reading books is so relaxing, it’ll also give you the break you deserve after writing for a while. That makes it a way to refresh your tired brain, learn more about writing, and get motivated all at the same time.
5. It’s Fun and Will Brighten up Your Day
Reading gives me a feeling that’s best described as euphoric.
Part of the reason why it’s so good at reducing stress and depression is that it’s such a mood-lifter. Focusing on it lets you block out most of your negative emotions. You can’t be sad when you’re following along with a story…unless it’s a sad one.
The story will boost your mood too. It’ll be a great distraction from whatever’s going on in your life. Its riveting characters and rich world may be just what you need.
It’s the perfect way to unwind after a long day.
Don’t Be Afraid to Enjoy a Good Book
Dedicated readers exist for a reason. Cracking open a novel is one of the best ways to relax and educate yourself at the same time. Especially if you’re the creative type.
Books are important. Not just to our society, but to our health. Don’t underestimate the healing properties of a good read. Or do, and just be pleasantly surprised.
This article was originally published by Kesten harris on medium.
Kesten E. Harris is an author with four books and counting under his name. When he's not publishing those, he's writing self improvement articles.