There are many reasons why you should read more often, as there are many health benefits of reading. In our history, reading and access to books was a luxury, reserved for the philosophers and the elites of society. That’s because resources were scarce, as books were written by scribes with a quill and ink or printed manually using xylography or woodblocks. This made books costly and not affordable to the masses.
It was not until the industrial revolution, with the invention of the movable-type metal printing press, that printed materials could finally be mass-produced. This machine made it easier to print and distribute books and other written artifacts. It was only then that reading materials became accessible for everyone.
As a result, year after year, studies have indicated that collective global literacy has steadily increased. It was 12% in the 1800s to 86% in 2015. Books hone language skills more than any other type of media. They require us to think, use our imagination, and broaden our consciousness. Here are more of the benefits you get from reading and reasons why you should read more regularly if you can:
Reading helps reduce screen time
Although the global literacy rate has been increasing continually since the invention of the printing press, it dropped in 2019 and 2020 due to the pandemic since people had to stay home from school. Unfortunately, both young and old turned to gadget use while on lockdown. Even if technology has paved the way for an even more rapid spread of information through online modes like Kindle and ebooks, it has also allowed for easy access to other forms of entertainment like social media and streaming sites. While these are not inherently bad, too much mindless usage and consumption can cause high levels of dopamine, leading to addiction, binging, lack of self-control, and a shortened attention span.
This is why it is important to balance one’s usage of electronic gadgets. This is an important reason why you should read every evening, especially actual physical copies of books. Doing so will get you off your gadgets before bed. Getting into the habit of reading before bed instead of looking at your TV, phone or other electronic devices can help reduce blue light exposure and promote better sleep. Most experts agree that part of good sleep hygiene is a bedtime routine that involves no screen time, and reading a book by candlelight is a perfect bedtime activity to help you fall asleep faster.
Why you should read more to increase your knowledge
There are various kinds of written material that span different genres. One such genre is the academic and informational kind, with the goal of sharing knowledge. These kinds of books, like encyclopedias, non-fiction, memoirs, journals, textbooks, how-tos, etc., are great for adding to your knowledge bank. Moreover, many are written in colloquial language or jargon that a layperson can readily understand.
These books cover various fields and can teach you a wide range of things. You can learn virtually anything, like market theory, understanding social phenomena, politics, budgeting, etc. In engaging in these types of challenging material, you improve your mental acuity and critical thinking abilities. This improves your overall quality of life, as you become equipped with the tools and knowledge to take on the challenges of your day-to-day life.
Reading provides you with insight, inspiration and wisdom
Another valid reason why you should read more often is because reading provides you with insight, inspiration and wisdom. These differ from knowledge in that knowledge is knowing, and wisdom is knowing with added perspective, which in turn helps in making good judgments. You can find many wise quotes in self-help books and even novels that offer a moral lesson. Reading about another person’s life story to success or how a book character found love will add to your perspective in life.
Reading is putting yourself in others’ shoes and exploring situations and spaces that may be familiar or unfamiliar to you. Books open up a whole new world, providing inspiration and motivation so you can traverse life with better clarity. You will be able to apply the lessons from the books to your own life, the decisions you make, and the ordeals you find yourself in, without having to experience the pains. For example, if you have read a book on debt and the repercussions of borrowing excessively, you may feel more cautious about credit card spending and be more mindful about taking loans because you’re more financially literate.
Improves focus and concentration
Unlike social media apps where information is given in bite-sized chunks of 140 characters or given too fast by short videos, books and other traditional written materials are composed of far more words. These books also expound more on certain topics, with most being called a “slow burn.” And since they don’t come with audio and moving images, you must focus 100% on the words written on the pages. When you find yourself fully immersed in your book, you learn to tune out distractions, concentrate on what’s in front of you, and use your imagination.
Reading books help you develop improved focus and patience. For instance, in some novels, information is not explicitly stated or only mentioned in later parts, you learn to pay attention to details. This helps become more creative in figuring out what is going on and what the author is trying to imply. As you hone your focus, you most likely will not become readily confused, impatient, or frustrated as you deal with areas in life because reading helps a lot in fostering a strong presence of mind.
Improves cognitive function and memory
By improving your focus and mental faculties, reading, consequently, helps improve your memory. By reading more on a topic or subject area, you develop a wider sense of understanding, making things easy for you to remember. Additionally, as you read a book, whether it be academic or even a novel, you are constantly piling on the information.
For instance, if you read a novel, you have to recall all the names of the characters and the story sequence in order to enjoy the book. If you are studying history, you need to remember and take note of all the previous historical events that have led up to where we are today. Bear in mind, continuously exposing yourself to this process will enable you to eventually carry over this memory skill to other aspects of your life. No more forgetting items on our to-do list! No wonder studies show that reading could even help older adults fight off dementia.
Sharpens your communication and critical thinking skills
We communicate the way we think. And we think at the same level as the things we consume. Reading helps exercise one’s critical thinking ability and language skills. You may not realize it, but reading exposes you to new topics and scenarios while also building your vocabulary. It is also a great way of exposing yourself to the different creative ways of expressing yourself.
By reading more, you could become a better speaker and communicator. You may find yourself being able to phrase your thoughts better. That’s because you have a robust vocabulary and have the ability to use the right terms to express yourself with eloquence. This benefit may seem obvious and trivial, but it is important, as our society functions on the ability of individuals to interact with one another. And interaction first starts with proper communication. When this happens, there will be less miscommunication and misunderstandings.
Teaches you to be more empathetic
Books teach empathy because it is an art. And as the famous adage goes, “art imitates life.” There are many themes to life just as there are genres in books. There are thrills in thrillers, giddy excitement in romance, tragedy in history, and so on.
Reading is just like immersing yourself in the lives of another person. You learn to see with their eyes, hear what they do, and speak in the same tongue. Take a book set in the Victorian age, and you would understand the struggles of women in a patriarchal society. Read To Kill a Mockingbird, and you’ll gain a semblance of what racism is, feels like, and what it does to people. Reach for a history book, and you would realize the struggles of your ancestors, and what it took for things to get to where they are today.
Reading cultivates empathy, and empathy is rooted in humanity. By simply being a reader, you become a better person. You become a better version of yourself.
Did You Know Reading is Genetically Linked?
Your ability to read is linked to your DNA. These traits are due to a shared genetic effect called the “Generalist Genes.” If you’re not fond of reading, this may be the culprit. You can take a CircleDNA test to find out more about your genetic personality and behavior traits. CircleDNA test results will also include reports on your disease risk, nutrition, diet, ancestry, and more.
Even if you do find out that your genome analysis doesn’t show a strong correlation between reading and language, this doesn’t mean you can no longer strengthen them. You can still train your brain to be a better reader. Start by making goals like reading one chapter of a book per day, creating a distraction-free environment, and reading books on topics that you enjoy.