I’m a big fan of literacy. I like to think that being and remaining literate throughout your life is an accomplishment often overlooked by chasing a career or bearing some offspring.
While I’m assuming most of us know how to read at a junior high level (hopefully higher), there are the troubled few who struggle to navigate the pages of Dr. Seuss.
After graduation it seems a lot of us just stop reading. There is no slow tapering off of book consumption but a swift drop. Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t have to read exam questions, when would I fit time in to practice comprehending written words?
For a long time I told myself “but I read articles online.” Barely. If I’m actually reading a full article I always scroll to see how long it is first. If the length is acceptable I find myself skimming paragraphs for only the most crucial information. I guess those 8th grade reading skimming strtegies did come in handy in the end.
Because online content is littered with distractions, it’s almost impossible to get the reading benefits that exist diving face first into a book. If there is an internet connected device at my fingertips, that article’s headline will be about the farthest I make it through the content.
But browsing clothing descriptions counts as reading though, right?
It turns out I am correct in my assumption that no one reads books anymore. This according to a horrifying article from Huffington Post that details a whopping 28% of Americans haven’t read a book in a year. That doesn’t mean people aren’t reading anything but they definitely aren’t reading books. Instead, more people have transitioned to online reading content like articles, lists (eh hem…), slideshows and other fast, easy and basic material replacing the predecessor of literature.
Okay, so you’re over feeling like complete shit about the fact that you don’t read. I’m right there with you because it generally takes me a year to read one book. Despite defying the above statistics, it’s less than beneficial for me to take 365 days to complete a 200 page book.
At the beginning of the year I set out to read 1 book per quarter plus 1 more aka 5 books in 2022. It was a personal goal but I was curious to know why exactly I should be reading other than a new year resolution.
6 Reasons Reading Is Kind of The Best Thing Ever
1.) Reading in general makes you a better speaker by increasing your vocabulary and ability to formulate better speaking patterns. A professor of mine once told me to be a better writer you have to be a better reader and it couldn’t be more true. I’d be curious to learn if that 28% of book less Americans can recite the alphabet. But aside from making you capable of speaking like a civilized human being, reading has some pretty sweet benefits for your mind on a deeper level.
2.) According to the CBC and the National Reading Campaign reading has the ability to reduce stress more than activities like listening music or even going for a walk.
3.) Alongside reducing stress, reading books also gives you the ability to empathize with others more easily and has the ability to improve memory function. While it hasn’t been proven to prevent Alzheimer’s, it has been shown to slow the effects of the degenerative disease.
4.) Reading books also allows you to disconnect from everything else going on even if for just a brief moment of your day. Online reading is certainly better than nothing but the distractions of social media, online shopping or insanely cute animal videos kind of defeat the purpose of reading.
5.) As my professor once preached, reading makes better writers but reading simply makes better readers. A lot of what makes people navigate toward online articles for their daily reading intake is because they’re easy to understand and for a lot of people. The more appeal an article has to a wider audience, the more views it will receive. Books provide an opportunity to read compelling and sometimes complex topics that boost brain power.
6.) Whether you’re getting lost in a Harry Potter novel or a humorous memoir, reading increases creativity. Regardless of your book being fiction or non-fiction, if the writing is captivating your imagination will take you into the story being told. Depending on your career choice, that creative avenue can either enhance your skills on the job or give you an outlet from your otherwise logical day.
As much as FOMO and a Netflix wormhole might sound more enticing than an hour of solitude, consider the benefits of reading and a book marathon instead.