The dictionary version of reading is – “look at and comprehend the meaning of (written or printed matter) by interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed.” Pretty intense, I should say. It feels like the definition that is given for “books” by the character named Rancho in the Bollywood movie “Three Idiots”.
In this age of audio books and visual media, reading is not given the attention it deserves. Reading enhances our mental as well as physical health. It has a long lasting effect in our life. It gives you multiple benefits that will improve your life as a whole. So we will go right into the reasons why reading should be encouraged.
Reading helps in strengthening and stimulating brain. Like we exercise to keep our body in prime condition, our brain also need exercise. I know what you think- “What? Brain too? Oh No”. But, yes it’s true. Reading is one of the ways in which you can give some good exercise to your brain. It involves a complex network of circuits and signals in the brain. Just like our muscles get stronger with use, these networks will also get stronger with regular use. And studies have shown that keeping your brain stimulated can reduce the progress of Alzheimer’s.
Reading reduces stress. Getting yourselves engaged in a good story can keep your thoughts away from the stress of daily life. Letting your brain focus on something else can relieve your brain of the stress for the time being. It has helped me a lot back in my early years of work. I used to feel dazed after my hectic work every day and I always used to settle myself with a book when I get back to my room, much to the annoyance of my roommates.
Reading definitely improves your vocabulary. The more you read, the more is the chance of you discovering a new word. Each new word read, adds to your vocabulary. Reading helps you to understand the contexts of the usage of words. It gives you an idea of how one particular word is most apt for a given situation even though there might be multiple words having the same meaning. It has helped me a lot when my kid comes up to me, for the meaning of a word she just picked up.
Reading improves writing skills. It gives you the exposure to the world of words. With improved vocabulary, naturally your writing skills will also improve. Reading gives you an opportunity to experience different styles of writing and some of them will definitely influence your writings also. You will find it easy to articulate your mind however you want, when you have that mastery over the words that comes with reading.
Reading enhances your imagination. When you read a description of a place given in a book, you give those words a mental image to it. You can’t see the place, but you will give it an image in your mind, how the way the place will look, with the help of that description. Have you noticed that, when you read a dialogue between two people, we end up imagining even the way they talk to each other. The scene will play in our mind like in a screen. Sometimes the author can make your imagination go wild with the plots he has created.
Reading a book improves your memory. You will need to remember the different characters in it, the sequence of events, the plots, the way each character evolves in the story etc. It’s a way to enhance your memory. If you connect the things you need to remember in the way of a story, you have a better chance of remembering it. Some of you must have had the good fortune of having a history professor, who would take you through the class as if through a movie. I’m sure you must have scored good grades then.
Reading improves concentration. These days we find our attention drawn to a multitude of things at the same time. It happens to me at times. For instance, I would take my phone to check a message and I end up going through my Facebook or Instagram. Only after a while will I realize that, I’ve drifted from my original purpose. When you read a book, the rest of the world just fades away from your mind. You get involved in it so much, so that you won’t even notice small distractions. So reading helps you practice your concentration.
Reading gives you knowledge. There was a time in history when there was no visual media like we have today. Yet we know about the life that existed in that era. The different culture, the people, the ways of life that was there at that time. We have those information because the people who lived then, documented it for us to read. The knowledge is passed on to us through generations with the help of these writings. Reading has helped us to evolve with the knowledge of our ancestors. And we still continue the process of documenting our life for the future generation to read. In short reading makes our life rich with knowledge.
Reading is a great way of entertainment. Think about it. A great book can take you to different levels of emotion – love, happiness, pain, surprises, devastation, desperation, excitement. You name it. It works on you like a movie. I would say reading is better, in the sense that, when reading you make a picture of it, as you prefer, in your mind. You need not confine your imagination to someone else’s, like you will have to when watching a movie. I love the feel a book gives me. I’m sure many of you will agree with me.
So start your reading journey today. You might find it difficult in the beginning. If you are someone who never had any interest in reading, don’t start with the big books. You will find them intimidating and will end up hating it. Just begin with small articles you find interesting. Don’t give up. Make it a practice. When you feel comfortable with it, upgrade to something bigger, like a novel. And once you get the hang of it, you might even want to read books that are “deep”. I had a roommate who never had any interest in reading. I encouraged her with one book. A truly gripping novel. I think, I can say I launched her journey of reading. I remember her not keeping the book down, till she had read the last page. With each passing chapter, the suspense keeps on building and she used to tell me that she just can’t keep it down. For a first time reader, she finished the book in record time. If you are interested, the book is called “Windmills of the Gods” by Sydney Sheldon.
Happy Reading !!!!!