Benefits of reading books

Benefits of reading books

The benefits of reading books are many and varied and may surprise you. It turns out that you get more than the content of a book when you read. 

According to research done by brilliant minds, reading provides the reader with many benefits which Healthline shares with us. According to Healthline, reading:

  • improves brain connectivity

  • increases your vocabulary and comprehension

  • empowers you to empathize with other people

  • aids in sleep readiness

  • reduces stress

  • lowers blood pressure and heart rate

  • fights depression symptoms

  • prevents cognitive decline as you age

  • contributes to a longer life

And according to Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), the writer whose name is synonymous with children's literature,

[t]he more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”.

There are many such insightful and fun quotes from Dr. Seuss that highlight the benefit of reading.

I admit that this post is self-indulgent but hope you'll come along with me on this journey. In this post I reflect on my reading journey and introduce you to some of the books that I have read in the hope that you will add them, among others, to your reading list. 

What books do I read?

Before I knew that there was any other benefit to be gained from reading, except enjoyment, I was reading. Before I was eleven I had read all the “story books” in the house, many times over. I am an indiscriminate reader. I read any book, non-fiction or fiction. I spent much of my early years in the library reading for the sake of reading. I read books such as The Scarlet PimpernelLorna Doone - the book - not the cookies and other such books. Then I moved on to romance and mystery novels and any other book that told a story.

My preferred books are literary fiction such as classics by Dickens but I still love thrillers and mystery. At this moment, I am reading Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens only to discover as the story progresses that I’ve already read it but, having started it, I will finish it - again.. Afterwards, I will change gears and take on Barrack Obama’s 702 pages book, A promised Land, when I have time to commit to it. Time is important because when I start a book I tend to be fixated on it until I finish it.

Why do I read?

I am a curious reader so when I read, I want to know about the characters and what makes them tick. I want to escape into the story world and spend a couple hours gathering knowledge about a time, a place and lived experiences which may or may not be different to that which I live. 

Growing up in a rural community was fun and there was much to do, but the worlds in the books that I read were so much different from the world in which I lived that my world seemed positively parochial in comparison. Reading allowed me to escape temporarily from what I saw then as the drudgery of my life. However the Agatha Christie novels, that I still enjoy, remind me that although we live in different regions of the world there are similarities that we share. This truth is evident in a turn of phrase, the actions of characters, the life they live and how they live it, and some of the the setting of these novels which remind me of home. 

The writers of my favourite books draw me into the story by both showing me and telling me about the characters and setting by their presentations of people, places and events. Over the years, reading has provided me with knowledge which I have been validating years later through my travels. 

How do I read?

Everybody has a different way of reading a book but we all read for the story hidden in the words on the page. I appreciate a writer with a "way with words" – a turn of phrase, an unexpected metaphor and nuanced sentences. I look for these when I read.

When I read, I enjoy the total experience that the writer lays out on the page and, at the end of the story, the characters stay with me. Writers are artists with words and if they arrange them just right, they can hold the reader captive until the last word of the story. 

When do I read?

I read all the time – morning, noon or night, but mostly at the end of a hard day’s work of writing my own stories. However, I have not been reading as much as I should. Writing and reading go hand in hand and both are full time pursuits. To read all the books I want to read is a full time job - a job that I would gladly take if it is offered to me. What better way to spend time! But for the moment I read a bit each day, enjoying the stories and the craft of the writers who tell them.

Where do I read?

These days, I read mostly in the quiet of my home. When I was younger I read anywhere—buses, in classes – anywhere. But things change. The world is not as safe as it used to be so I need to be aware of my surroundings. This is where audio books come in. I can listen to stories being read to me while keeping my eyes wide open to all that is happening around me.

Conclusion

So, now that you know that reading is good for your mental and physical health, what are you reading? If reading is not yet one of your hobbies, choose a book and read. See how it goes. If you don’t know what to read, ask a friend who reads to recommend a book for you or choose a book on a bestsellers' list

Or, since Christmas is just around the corner why not choose a Christmas title to be your companion during this time when COVID-19 is forcing us to do things differently? 

Better yet, why not check your bookcase for titles that are worth re-reading? Do your mind and body a favour by including reading on your priority list of things to do at any time.

I hope that you will read at least one book during this holiday season, if only for the enjoyment of the story—an enjoyment that you may find in the characters, in the setting, in the development of the story, in the writer’s style, or in the chance to travel vicariously to wonderful worlds.


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About the Author

Janette B. Fuller is a teacher and author of three books. Her business is to write stories set in the place she knows best – Jamaica – while also helping writers to write their own stories. 

When you are ready to write your story and/or after you have written your story, make contact with her at writingwisdomtree@gmail.com for coaching and editing services, respectively. Check out her books here



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