Reading has been around for thousands of years. In the olden days, they used scrolls and parchment to debate the philosophical ideas of others, which was the most popular genre at the time. Since then, reading has become an activity that spans many genres and formats. Paperbacks, hardcovers, audiobooks, eBooks, graphic novels…they are all different methods of telling stories. But reading is not just an enjoyable pastime, it’s also very healthy for your mental and emotional well-being. There are many added benefits to reading other than enjoying a great story; this blog post will unpack a few of them.
Reading Helps Your Vocabulary
According to the University of Rochester, parents who read to young kids motivate them to independently read as they get older. Reading from a young age boosts kids’ belief in themselves and increases their confidence in their vocabulary. This makes sense…the more books you are exposed to during your younger years, the more new words you gradually become familiar with. I feel this is why many authors claim their writing inspiration came from a love of reading. Although we may not have realized it back then, we were storing away fresh ideas and new words to use for the day we became faced with a blank page.
Reading Improves Your Mental Health
The benefits of reading are not just for students or young kids but anyone of any age. Numerous studies show the positive effects reading has on your mental health. Psychology Today talks about “bibliotherapy,” which basically means using books to clinically combat mental illness. Fiction, in particular, evokes something called reader empathy. You know that feeling you get when your favourite character suddenly dies, and you throw the book across the room in frustration? That’s reader empathy. Your brain feels real emotions for someone who does not exist in a situation that never really happened - unless we’re talking about non-fiction. Although fiction readers absorb make-believe, this process helps them relate to our world and the real human beings in their life. So, the common myth that bookworms are introverts who don’t know how to properly socialize is wrong!
Reading Helps Us Escape Reality
Ever heard the phrase, “sometimes reality is stranger than fiction?” Whoever made this quote knew what they were talking about. Reality can be a weird thing. I’m writing this blog post at the beginning of 2023. If you’re aware of current events during this time, you’d know we just lived through almost three years of the COVID-19 pandemic and are seeing the rise of artificial intelligence and Web 3. Is it just me, or does that sound like a sci-fi novel? Putting the global concerns aside for a moment, we all live through daily challenges that can be extremely tough to navigate. One of the best ways to cope is by reading, especially fiction, because it allows us to walk in someone else’s shoes for a little while. Reading helps us see examples of overcoming adversity, as most storylines revolve around the protagonist facing obstacles that block them from achieving their desired goal. Books like this can show us that if they can overcome their struggles, so can we.
You Can’t Be A Writer Without Being A Good Reader
Of course, reading has many benefits for individuals who have no interest in writing. However, reading is critical if you want to be a good writer. Many other authors will tell you the exact same thing. Reading a wide variety of books will show you what ideas have already been used and what good writing techniques are. Sure, there are dozens of books created to help authors, but reading fiction allows you to see those strategies in action. For writers, I’d recommend reading both non-fiction writing books and fiction. Learn how to properly use dialogue, and then see how characters interact in a bestselling novel. Read about the importance of setting, and then observe how an author builds and expands upon a fictional world throughout a series. Think about it this way: which do you feel would be more productive? Reading about how Tiger Woods perfects his golf swing or watching the golfer swing repeatedly? Both are very beneficial, but the second option would be more so. The same goes for writing. You can read about writing and read authors who know how to write.
While reading is enjoyable, there are many more health benefits than most people realize. Reading can help anyone at any age and in various professions too. Although you might not consider yourself a “bookworm,” consider becoming a “reader”...the future you will thank you down the road. And for those who already love books…now you can use this article as ammo next time someone questions why you spend so much time reading.
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