From time to time, people have questioned the importance of reading in one’s life. Even though there is so much one can do with their time, it doesn’t feel right to say that reading is the most productive thing you could do in that spare time. But in reality, the significance of reading is severely underrated, especially as newer generations start rolling in.
Most people associate poor reading skills with low intelligence, which is a misunderstanding. For instance, the author of The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, John Corcoran, was in fact, a very intelligent man. He graduated from High school and college, went on to become a high school teacher and later on, a successful business man- all without being able to read fluently.
There are many intelligent people who struggle with reading today, but the secret is not to give up. Keep at it, read as much as you can, and get through the struggle. Because more often than not, when properly trained and exercised, they can learn to read quickly and easily.
Why Is Reading Important
Now you’re probably wondering that if a man like John Corcoran succeeded in life without being able to read, why is it important to read? Well for starters, Corcoran may have been successful in life, but he also experienced shame, loneliness, and fear before he learned how to read.
He was able to succeed only because he was a man of determination and intelligence. And if you read the book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, you’ll find out that Corcoran mentions his inability to read was what made his life harder and less enjoyable.
The importance of reading will be explained in 8 thought-provoking points below, but before we take a deep dive into the subject, let’s give this some thought:
Reading is important because it gives us endless knowledge, keeps our minds active, helps develop our thoughts, builds on our vocabulary and thinking skills, and so many more reasons.
In a world full of information, you need to keep up with the daily affairs to have conversations with others. Reading books and newspapers is the best way to stay informed.
While reading can be thought of as a difficult, time-consuming task, the truth is that once you develop the habit of reading, it becomes quite fun.
How Reading Benefits You
Now, here are the 8 points that will help you lean towards reading even more:
1. Helps expand your vocabulary and knowledge
When you first started to read, there were many words you came across that you didn’t recognize or understand. This led to you fishing for the word in your dictionary (or in today’s world, just Googling it).
Since it was the first time you came across the word, chances of your brain retaining it and remembering it, considering all the effort that went into searching for it, are high.
The act of searching for the definition is also a fun exercise for your brain to remain active. Now, think of all the words you’ve picked up along the way since you first started reading.
You definitely have a few fancy words up your sleeve that sound more intelligent and sophisticated than when you first picked up the habit.
Essentially, this is building up your vocabulary, one word at a time. A study by the University of Oregon suggested that reading every day helped people incorporate new words and phrases into their sentences easier.
It helped them build new vocabularies in their brain that they never would’ve developed, if they hadn’t started reading on a daily basis. Now, if you’ve just started reading, don’t expect a new vocabulary to develop overnight; it’s a process.
The words you learn start integrating themselves into your everyday vocabulary, and you may catch yourself using them while speaking.
2. Stimulates Your Brain
Reading is a fun activity for many people, but its benefits go far beyond the mere factor of entertainment. It has various mental benefits in the form of understanding and thinking. Y
our brain’s cognitive functions are stimulated when you start following the storyline of a book avidly. This stimulation helps sharpen your mind and puts the side of your brain responsible for critical thinking and concentration, to work.
The sharpening of your mind eventually leads to heightened levels of focus that result from concentrating on something that interests you.
Most people don’t understand how reading sharpens the brain, though. This happens when your brain is stimulated; when you focus on words, your brain is capable of retaining a lot of information (more than you realize).
All this results in improved levels of analyzing and critical thinking. Essentially, your thought process is being sharpened. Isn’t it great how just reading a book can do all that?
Apart from critical thinking, and analyzing skills, reading helps improve upon the overall functioning of your brain. It’s similar to muscle functioning in the human body. Consider this: if you work a muscle group every day, that muscle group will grow and become stronger day by day.
Reading is very similar to that; constantly stimulating your brain with a book helps exercise it on a regular basis, and strengthens the parts of your brain you use during the process of reading.
3. Improves Memory and Helps You Focus
We all know how physical exercise is used to push our bodies to our limits and achieve exciting results. Similarly, reading is a form of mental exercise that pushes our memory and focus levels to the limits.
While it can definitely improve your level of concentration, there is another part of mental health that it helps improve upon. The NCU stated that reading at least a few pages every day helps improve your memory functioning and focus levels. Reading stimulating your brain, especially the part of the brain associated with memory and attention spans.
While reading, the brain constantly absorbs pieces of information from the story, even if you’re not focusing entirely. Reading stimulates the part of your brain that controls memory, and therefore acts as an exercise for this side of the brain. When you start reading on a daily basis, it becomes habitual, which in turn, improves memory.
Focus, on the other hand, is strengthened when you are interested in what you’re reading. If you are captivated by the storyline and want to keep up with the author, you are required to focus.
You won’t understand anything you’re reading if you don’t focus. It is almost like solving a math problem: it requires your undivided attention. The same applies for reading, and just as the memory function is exercised in your brain, so is your focus.
4. Strengthens Your Writing Skills
Reading certainly has health benefits (some of which we’ve gone through), but it benefits many other aspects of one’s life as well. The advantages, altogether, help form a well-rounded human being.
If you’ve ever tried writing anything before (be it a story, a poem, or even an English assignment), you know how important it is to read. It is often the case that writers are big readers because they pursue the fulfilment of reading.
In fact, most aspire to become writers after reading a really well-written novel. Reading different novels helps you mimic their writing styles, tones, and other capabilities. This helps you become more confident about your writing and is often what writers turn to for inspiration.
There’s no doubt that your writing skills improve considerably after developing the healthy habit of reading. If you enjoy writing or aspire to become a writer, consider studying writing styles of other authors.
If you are just looking to improve upon your writing in general, and don’t have any interest in reading as such, perhaps you should consider books on writing.
Writing books focus on the craft of writing and share information about the different forms of writing. They are self-help books and can be found online, or at a good old-fashioned bookstore. Any form of reading can help your writing skills vastly.
5. Opens Up Your Imagination and Levels of Empathy
Even if this is not one of the more common benefits of reading, there’s no doubt that reading helps enhance your imagination. Think about it this way: when you start a book, you have no idea what it’s going to be like.
When you’re halfway through, you have already painted a picture of the happenings, and are anticipating what the ending will be like. By the time you’re done, you have a clear idea of the storyline, know the characters on a personal level, and feel like you’re a part of their world.
The part of your brain that houses your imagination helps you create an image of the places and the people in your mind just by picturing the words.
This is only possible because reading books stimulates the brain, not just the memory and focus segments of the brain, but also the imagination segment.
In fact, the more you read, the more your skills to conjure up the world of characters improves. Heavy readers definitely know what it’s like to lose themselves in the captivating world of novels.
It’s simply a feeling that cannot be put into words. Imagination is a very powerful tool that doesn’t just restrict you to creating a world while reading a book. It can be applied to varies aspects of life.
Further, imagination can even help you become empathetic towards people. As we know, empathy is a rather important skill when it comes to interacting with others.
6. Reduces Stress Levels and Relieves Tension
Reading is definitely a great source of entertainment for many, but did you know that it is capable of reducing stress levels? People who have stressful days at work should consider taking a book along with you, and whenever you have a few minutes to spare, read a book.
As strange as it sounds, the very act of reading and focusing on written words can help bring down stress levels, relieve your mind of anxiety, and other pressures of the day. Some people say that they can literally feel the stress melt away.
But in all seriousness, how can reading help decrease stress levels? The truth is, this varies from person to person. For instance, what a breath of fresh air can do for someone may not do the same for another who would prefer a cigarette break.
But by allowing yourself to take a break from your stress, relax, and be swept away into a world of fantasies is definitely helpful. Developing the habit of reading has proven to be very beneficial in the long run, as you start to associate reading with a break from your stress.
7. Reading Can Brighten Your Day
Well if reading can help reduce your stress and anxiety levels, there’s no doubt that it won’t brighten up your day. Many readers claim that books bring joy to their lives on a daily basis.
Not only does reading have a great effect on the mental and physical health, but it can make an otherwise dull day, cheerful.
A stressful, worrisome day can be turned upside down just by curling up on your couch with a good book that can easily lift your spirits and wash away the day’s stress and worry.
Many people say meditation and yoga are compelling ways to brighten up your day. Be that as it may, a little time spent with a good book is another way to turn that frown upside down.
Besides, books are easy to carry around, and you can read almost anywhere. Whether you’re in line for your coffee order, or at the supermarket, there’s no wrong place to read a book. If you’re an early riser, start your day with some light reading and see how it changes your life.
8. Decreases Depression and DysthymiaReading helps decrease the chances of falling into depression, and as we all know, depression is a sticky situation to get out of. It’s always best to be proactive and take all the necessary steps to ward off depressive occurrences.
When it involves activities as easy (and fun) as reading books, who wouldn’t want to be proactive? Did you know that reading stimulates the part of your brain that deals with depression as well?
If you’re here to fight off depression and dysthymia, then it might be best to start with self-help books, designed to make yourself feel better and improve your state of mind.
Reading books helps people suffering from depressive tendencies, but not serious enough to be on medication. While this might seem like a strange benefit, the stimulation of the part of your brain that deals with depression is very helpful.
You can develop the feeling of happiness by reading a book that interests you, that has capabilities of turning your day around. Even though it’s far from a permanent solution for depression, reading certainly helps relieve depressive energy.