I wasn’t passionate about reading until after I graduated college.
I read because my teachers told me I needed to read a book. Once I began taking A 2+ hour round trip commuter rail rides to work, I began to plow through books regularly.
My interests vary.
I am a lover of history, especially military and war books. I read a variety of self-development books. I stick to non-fiction for the most part, but do find fiction to be a nice change from time to time.
The distractions in our lives are many. Never before have we been faced with so many ways to spend our free time. Social media, internet blogs and news, and mediums such as Netflix and HBO dominate people’s lives.
With that said, adults are still reading, just not often.
According to the Pew Research Center, 78% of adults have read at least one book in 2013 and the average amount of books read was five. Reading is the greatest medium to enhance learning and new ideas; five books are simply not enough.
On a global level, illiteracy remains the most destructive issue children face today. Even in the U.S., reading statistics among children are a disaster.
Our government needs to do a better job of teaching and promoting reading. They have failed us all.
Why Should We Read?
The benefits of reading are vast.
We discover new ways to solve problems and think of the world. Creativity is enhanced as well.
We can dissect the lives of individuals who have gone before us, gaining insight into their way of thinking and problem solving process.
By reading extensively, I’ve saved time by avoiding projects with a low chance of success. I also take notes when I read to internalize the most important points the author is trying to express.
By interacting with the text, and filing away my notes, I am able to benefit from reading well after I have completed a book.
#1: A lifetime of learning
Reading teaches us new ideas and beliefs.
We might not realize it, but reading changes us and the ways in which we think. It alters how we see the world around us and can impact the decisions we make.
Reading also helps us interact with others. Having the ability to discuss a range of topics can only be enhanced and strengthened through reading. You’ll be able to comfortably converse with individuals from all sorts of backgrounds because of the wisdom gained through books.
Too many people today are singular in their knowledge; they spend their lives focused on one process (their job) and fail to expand their knowledge into other areas. This leaves them socially inept when talking to someone from a different background.
The brain can hold a lot of information so always look to learn and expand your knowledge.
#2: Less Stress
According to a 2009 study by the University of Sussex, reading for as little as 6 minutes can help reduce stress up to 68%.
This is more effective than listening to music, walking, or even playing video games.
We all could use less stress in our lives.
Dr. David Lewis, a French-born neuropsychologist who ran the study stated:
“Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation. This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism. It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.”
I’ve found inspiration and actionable advice from countless books.
Reading allows us to fully realize the extent of the human body and mind. We realize how far we actually can push ourselves by learning about figures of the past and their accomplishments
History teaches us to be grateful for what we have. Many books I have read involve someone who has persevered against the odds, often coming from a poor background.
When we think there is no hope, reading makes us realize that people have overcome much worse and gone on to do great things.
Take cold water for instance. Most of us hate the cold and complain when the temperature dips.
I enjoy war books and have read extensively about the Eastern Front theater of World War II. Battles were brutal and often fought in temperatures that dipped well below -20 degrees.
I think of these stories when I want to complain about how “bad” I have it. .
Reading is the #1 way to improve ourselves.
The benefits include:
- Enhanced analytical skills
- Improved writing skills
- Positive feelings and emotions
- Internalization of unique writing styles and words
- Decrease of negative thoughts
- Actionable advice, especially if we are going through the same issues as the author or main character.
#5: Exercising the Mind
Are you doing everything you can to keep your mind sharp as you age?
A lifetime of reading can lead to slower memory loss and can also help us to avoid Alzheimer’s disease. The mental stimulation offered by reading can greatly help in keeping our brains in tip-top shape until the end of our lives.
Read, read, read.
Put down the video game controller.
Ditch the remote.
Stop pissing away money at the movie theater or the mall.
Grab a book for a few measly dollars and watch the improvements to your life.
You won’t regret it.