If you do not currently make a habit of reading regularly, you could be missing out on some very important benefits. Here are ten examples of how reading a chapter a day can be good for your mind, body and soul.
Reading widely is a great way of acquiring knowledge. This is why, during any course that you embark on, be it an academic or vocational one, you will ultimately have to read to further your knowledge of the subject. For instance, historians will read ancient artefacts to discover details about their field of study while a trainee car mechanic will read manuals to find out how the parts of different automobiles work.
Granted, some people may be born with a more academically attuned mind but have you ever noticed that smart people are usually portrayed in films or TV programmes as the ones with a book in their hand? This goes to show that society sees a link between reading books and being intelligent.
‘Skilled’ readers are those who can focus all of their attention onto the subject given in front of them and who can absorb all of the fine details hidden between the lines. If you find this a challenge and don’t feel like you are taking information in as you are reading, you may need to work on your reading skills to ensure you are getting the most out of the process.
Follow these tips to hone your reading skills!
A skilled reader may benefit from having a photographic memory and thus be able to recall information as it appeared on the page, although this is unfortunately not something that can be taught.
Regardless of how good or bad your memory is and how hard or easy you find it to sit down and read, training your brain to be more attentive by doing mental exercises and practicing your reading skills can go a long way in helping you to learn more through reading.
In addition to providing you with information about a given field, reading can also teach you about the world: through reading you can learn about current affairs, discover pieces of history, grasp human values and learn about different ways of expressing yourself.
Take reading a newspaper every morning, for example. Most national papers including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express offer a wide range of articles across multiple sections. For instance, on a given day you could find out who won a football game the day before, learn about a crisis on the other side of the globe and discover which cities were voted as the best places to live in the UK.
Moreover, much of our world’s history has been documented in books therefore reading some of these accounts from the past can help you to learn about how our lives have been shaped by historical events.
Reading can teach you about historical events that you otherwise might not get the opportunity to learn about. Photo credit: The British Library via Visual hunt
Yet another educational advantage to reading on a regular basis is the way that we naturally pick up new vocabulary from passages of texts and equally familiarise ourselves with up to date language trends. A student of English will explore the ways that the English language has evolved from Old English to the language we use to communicate with today, while also discovering facts about life through the centuries.
Reading does not have to be limited to books of classic English Literature though, there is an abyss of different texts available to us, even more so now that online publishing is so popular, as well as the ongoing development of social media and blogs. As such, we can take multiple lessons from one single activity.
Educating yourself through reading might be achieved as a result of picking up a printed book yet it may also come about from reading a blog by a genuine poster on the Internet. Either way, the more exposure you have to a broad range of texts, the wider your own word bank will become and the more knowledge you will acquire along the way.
Modern distractions like television, emails and social media mean that we have much lower levels of productivity than ever before and as such spend our time flitting from one obstruction to another without really benefitting from any of the tasks.
Reading helps you to focus all of your attention on one story or account (or even giving your undivided attention to a particular person, if you are writing a personal letter) and allows you to absorb all of the fine details presented to you. This not only means you will be a better interpreter of information, you could also become more skilled in the art of reading others’ emotions on a social level and thus boost relationships.
Focused readers are fast readers, possessed of agile minds!
Remaining on the subject of developing skills, reading helps you to enhance your analytical skills and improves your ability to think critically. These skills, along with your newfound attention to detail, all impact on the ease at which you can interpret texts on a higher level.
This means that, with more reading, you might find yourself understanding advanced texts far easier, and coming up with relevant counter-arguments or queries to facts that you might not otherwise have thought of before. By consequence, you will be better at communicating yourself, both in writing and speech.
Why not pass these valuable skills on to your young readers?
Being a critic of texts also enables you to develop your own taste and preferences when it comes to reading different styles of writing.
Reading is not all about gaining new skills, however. Scientists have proven that staying mentally stimulated through tasks like reading and writing can slow down the progress of, or even eliminate, mental disorders linked to old age such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Just like any muscle in your body, your brain needs to stay active to remain powerful. This also applies to your memory – the more you read, the better your abI lity to retain information in the long run.
Since older generations are not naturally drawn to the digital advancements of literature in the same way that our younger peers are, they are somewhat limited to reading texts available in hard or paper back, as well as reading hand-written notes or printed stories in newspapers. That said, there is enough information readily available for this group of people even without digital content so they have plenty of opportunities to engage with a variety of texts and to allow their creativity to run wild.
Whether or not this is a pro or a con is debatable, but scientists have made links between high IQs and doing things that are somewhat out of character, sometimes described as ‘stupid’, even.
Although there is only an indirect correlation between reading lots and being one of these people who acts spontaneously, seeing as we have already established that regular readers are often brighter people and that brighter people in turn have higher IQs, then we can conclude that there is a high chance that this theory could be true! Who knew that reading could be so influential on your willingness to let your hair down?
Research shows that raising your IQ through reading more could impact on your approach to taking risks. Photo via Visualhunt.com
In addition to the mental health benefits, reading can keep your stress levels down by enabling you to transport yourself away from everyday life and leave any troubles behind you, at least for the duration of the activity. Finding a source of escape can additionally benefit you in the long run as it helps you to be rational and put things into perspective.
Help others reduce their stress: teach someone to read!
Although some might find reading to be a boring or even a treacherous task, once mastered it can bring so much satisfaction. Reading is particularly good at calming ones’ nerves, which is why so many people read before bed to help put them into a peaceful slumber.
Reading to get a dose of tranquility does not have to be limited to nighttime though, anyone can read when they have a spare moment to help them to switch off from their surroundings and to find a calm and joyous place – whether that be by placing themselves in the story or by simply taking themselves out of the equation completely.
Last but not least, reading is a brilliant source of entertainment that is often free or comes at a very minimal cost.
When you consider how long you spend reading a fiction novel, for example, and how much pleasure you get from the experience, it is astonishing that most paperbacks cost less than £8.00. That is more than half the price of an average cinema ticket, which only seeks to entertain for 2-3 hours (and which you can’t keep to benefit from again).
Buying a fiction novel is cheaper than a cinema ticket. Photo via Visualhunt
As previously mentioned, literature is advancing at a significant pace with many books nowbeing published in digital form for free, with the intention of raising awareness of authors and their style of work.
As such, we are privy to some fantastic pieces of writing covering a broad range of subjects to keep us entertained at pretty much any time we wish. So, instead of watching a funny YouTube video during your lunch break, why not open up your Kindle, flick through the pages of a book or even find some invigorating short stories to keep yourself amused or distract you temporarily from your responsibilities.