Many of you already know that I spend a considerable amount of my time reading and writing. Honestly, it is one of the easiest things to procrastinate to.
Of course there are times when I turn to YouTube or a show, to procrastinate, but for some reason I just love reading and writing.
Last year I read 56 books. I didn’t actually try to read that amount. I was just reading. I honestly felt like I was not reading enough. Then I checked my Goodreads challenge and they told me I read 56 books.
This year I decided that I’d be intentional about my reading time and spend a lot of time deliberately reading.
That is why I gathered some research and wanted to tell you the reasons I read.
1. It Lets You Read Other People’s Thoughts
One of the greatest joys of reading is that we can literally become another person whom we have never met, possibly admire, for an extended amount of time.
When we read, we are reading the thoughts of other people.
I find that to be one of the true wonders of reading.
2. The Conversations You Have Become Better & More Interesting
A good friend of mine is leaving my hometown in a couple of weeks. She is also my coworker.
We’ve been having some of our last moments together. One of the things she told me why she values our relationship is that I read a lot and that because of that we tend to talk about interesting things.
As I thought about that gracious compliment I realized that people that read tend to be my better friends.
They are intriguing, educated, skeptical, and focused. When they talk, people quiet down, because they know that someone who has taken the time to practice the skill of knowledge, will be better at expressing the truth.
People that read are respected, because of their speech.
3. The Only Goal of An Education is to be Well-Read
“Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” — G. K. Chesterton
Educate yourself so that you can challenge preconceived notions. One of the best ways to do that is to read the most you can and to be sincerely interested.
I was raised in a Christian environment, I thought I was skeptical of my faith when I was growing up. When in reality I never really read anything by an Atheist. I only read Christians quoting Atheists to disprove what they said, or Christians responding to claims that Atheists made against them.
The moment I challenged my beliefs by reading Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, A. C. Grayling, P. Watson, Bertrand Russell, David Hume, James Joyce, Albert Camus, Hemingway, and others, I realized that that the Atheist world is vast and the arguments are well-formulated.
I needed to read in order to be challenged. Watching video was not enough.
Apart from these personal reasons I read, I’ve collected research from articles that also display the benefits to reading:
1. Reading Prevents Memory Loss
A study which included almost 300 participants who died at an average age of 89 discovered that those that were engaging in mental activities such as reading experienced slower memory decline than those patients that did not read.
The rate of decline with those that did not train their minds was 48% faster than those who did (http://www.neurology.org/content/81/4/314).
2. Reading Prevents Depression
Another study from the PLOS journal showed that self-help books can help prevent depression. Since depression causes hopelessness people stop believing in the capability of change, self-help books boost the parts of the brain that are associated with happiness, rather focusing on that which is ahead and your ambitions (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0052735).
3. Reading Relaxes You
At the University of Sussex a study reported that reading can relax you more than listening to your favorite tunes, going for a walk, or even enjoying a cup of coffee/tea.
This is a hard one to believe, honestly. I love my coffee. And I love my tea. Books are great as well. But let’s be honest. You probably feel me on this one. Don’t be telling me how I should feel about my tea time (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html).
4. Reading Builds a Critical Mind
The more you read the more information you add into your brain. This information proves helpful in dire circumstances when you need to make last minute decisions, or decide between the lesser of two evils for president.
5. Reading is a Literal Workout For the Brain
Unlike watching TV or listening to the radio, reading stimulates your brain to be able to focus on tasks better. That is what you are training your mind to do the more you read, because the mind is forced to focus again & again from page to page on new information.
Ken Pugh, PhD, and the president and director of research of Haskins Laboratories told Oprah magazine that:
“[P]arts of the brain that have evolved for other functions — such as vision, language, and associative learning — connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging.”(https://www.rd.com/culture/benefits-of-reading/)