13 books piled high and the birthday gift of a lifetime, The Series of Unfortunate Events was my new best friend and sent me into a reading frenzy. From there, I was hooked. Carrying the Twilight series around high school, friends calling them my ‘Bibles’, reading sent me into another world, into characters lives where their feelings became mine and their every thought and action, good or bad, agreeable with my personality or not, became something I understood and admired. I felt my vocabulary expanding. As a writer, I was inspired to write. I grew up a child and young adult who always took into consideration other people’s feelings and sought to understand their perspective and reasoning, something that I knew automatically was instilled in me from my continuous reading. Reading taught me to feel for others, to have a compassion and understanding for the world around me and people in it that the average person has, and I found this to be the same with other writers I met who also love to read. How can you be a writer at all if you don’t understand the deeper complexities of the world? No matter what a book may be about; historically telling the story of WWII, Slavery, or Elizabeth Bennet’s struggle with love, reading puts you in other peoples shoes in every aspect, developing analytical thinking.
This got me wondering… Reading has benefited many in this way tremendously (and I’m not just saying this… science proves that reading increases empathy and analyzation), and for this reason alone it should be practiced in every home, but what other benefits are there to reading?
Reading increases brain activity, and leads to increased intelligence. Furthering your vocabulary, writing skills, analyzation (as stated nearly a handful of times… it’s just so great!) and overall increasing your brains health.
Reading relieves stress and anxiety. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or not in control of your emotions, pick up a book. Reading takes your mind off the subject that calms down your emotions as you’re pulled into a different world.
Since it relieves stress, reading can also be a sleep aid. Finding a way to break stress and relax before bed is the perfect way to get a good night’s sleep and help the whole process go down a little more smoothly, for us whose minds tend to run a little extra as soon as we hit the pillow.
Reading also has many beneficial aspects to look forward to later in life, in the sense that it stimulates the brain and increases memory potential, easing off diseases like Alzheimer’s. The brain, as it’s used, is strengthened, just like many other parts of the body. In result, reading can decrease risk of many diseases we may obtain due to aging.
This mental stimulation of the brain that reading causes can also increase intelligence, as reading increases vocabulary and writing skills (as well as analyzation… just thought I’d throw that one in there one more time for you (; ). This includes creativity as well, something that many of us know tends to fade away as we age. “Our brains work similar to a sponge, they soak up every bit of knowledge we encounter and store it for future use,” (Torres, Uloop).
Now I understand also that many people say they don’t like reading, that they ‘can’t’, but if you find the right book, the story that intrigues you and pulls you in, then it’s just like a movie except with a deeper connection, a more enticing storyline. You can read about anything. I mean this literally. Your favorite instrument, band, sport, celebrity, your biggest passion; these all come in some form of book. Which is why it’s something that’s not hard to do and is beneficial in too many ways that there is no reason to not do it. Therefore, you need to go read a book, and you need to do it now.
A handful of my favorite books (incase you need some ideas):
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen – A difficult read, but gets better everytime you re-read it, and such a classic!
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr – Written from two perspectives during WWII, a young blind girl living in France and a young German boy who’s highly intelligent. Nothing else to further say from there, it’s too amazing to not read, even for the ‘non-reader’.
The Nightingale, Kristin Hanna – Another historical fiction book written during WWII, from two perspectives: a rebellious teenage girl who joins a resistance and her very introverted older sister who always plays by the rules and has a Nazi billeting in her home. This was by far my favorite book I’ve ever read. Get past the first few chapters and the twists and turns are never ending. To say I cried is an understatement.
#GirlBoss, Sophia Amoruso – Everytime I read this I wanted to get up off the seat I was sitting in and do something productive. Need a sense of motivation and to be driven? This is the perfect book! Reading her story of going from nothing to everything in a matter of a few quick years, you might get a little bit of anxiety from the overwhelming urge to get up and make a difference. This is true life motivation for any and everyone.
Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline – Taking you back in time to an older woman’s childhood as an immigrant orphan and her scarring experiencing, she tells her story to a misguided teen who is looking for answers to find her way through life, as she herself finds out answers to some of her mysterious past.