One day I was reading in bed next to my husband. He was watching tv and surfing the internet. He pulled up a list called "How to know if someone is a reading addict" (or something along those lines) and started reading it aloud to me. I laughed and said he could stop. I know I am a reading addict. I love reading - I will take it over television, movies, and video games on most days. I love the ability to escape my life into a great story.
As a writer, I want you to love reading as much as I do. I know there are more of you out there, but if you aren't a reader, I've compiled a few reasons why reading is great.
Reading makes you smarter.
The brain operates like a muscle. A muscle needs training or a workout to stay in shape and to grow. Reading is one way the brain stays in shape because reading is an active brain activity. During reading, the brain is working by processing words to make sense of the information.
Reading improves vocabulary.
Books force people to discover the meaning of unfamiliar words in order to understand the story. Reading literary fiction is a great study method for one of the admission tests- the SAT, GRE, LSAT, etc, especially compared to the boring study method of flash cards. Or if you need to do any writing or speaking for your career, a sound vocabulary is important. Reading will build your vocabulary.
Readers are better writers.
Successful writers often give the following advice to amateur writers- “Read great books to improve your writing.” The brain learns about proper sentence structure, grammar, and flow through well-written books.
Reading improves your memory.
While reading, the brain works to remember characters, themes, and settings throughout the book. Remembering these details stretches the brain’s memory muscles and causes growth.
Reading improves concentration and focus.
Screens, devices, and short attention spans rule our society. People rarely sit down, concentrate, and focus on one activity for an extended period of time. However, reading is an activity where concentration and focus are essential. Otherwise, key moments are missed in the book.
Reading Improves Imagination and Creativity
Reading also stimulates the creative and imaginative parts of the brain. Unlike watching television or playing a video game, the reader takes the details of a story and creates the image associated with the story. The reader fills in the blanks while reading- an aspect of reading which I love.
Reading Reduces Stress
Reading a book transports the reader into another world. During reading, your mind shifts gears from the stress of life to the story. For me, this is especially helpful before bed. If I’m having a hard time falling asleep, usually reading a chapter of a good fiction book will calm my brain away from the swirling stressful thoughts.
Reading is Cheap
Reading is inexpensive compared to the other entertainment options. I rarely spend over 10 dollars a month on books, despite reading roughly five books each month. I use the library to read free books on loan. Even if one buys a book, the price is reasonable. Ebooks are typically under $10 and paperback print books are around $12. A 400 page novel takes an average person about 10 hours to read. In comparison, a video games costs $50 for ten hours of play, a movie theater ticket is $10 for two hours, or a two hour movie rental is $4. Books are the best entertainment deal when examining the cost verse time spent.
Besides all the side benefits above, I love reading because I love escaping my world into a story. I love learning about human nature and the world through stories. I love laughing and crying from a good book.