The Benefits of Reading

One thing that I always tell people about myself – other than my love of hockey – is that I absolutely love to read. I think reading is one of the best things you can do for yourself, no matter what genre. There are so many benefits to reading, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, memoirs or biographies or what have you.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve run across on the Internet who say they don’t read, and it absolutely stuns me. I can’t imagine a life without reading, and I certainly do not want to. I’ve worked at a library for the past five and a half years. I read often; I make time for it, even if it takes me a while to get through some books sometimes. Reading is important to me because it is this great thing that will ALWAYS be there. Even if I have no money, I can always find eBooks for free online or visit a local library. Whether I’m in Buffalo, Toronto, or Paris, I can find books. No matter who you are, where you are or how much or little money you have, reading is an opportunity open to everyone. (I realize literacy may be a completely different horse to tackle. But the fact is, reading is something that is consistently available to me no matter where I am.)

Without further ado, here are ten reasons why reading is an absolutely wonderful thing.

  1. Learn new things – This particularly applies to non-fiction, though there are lessons that can be learned from fictional works as well. You can learn almost anything from books. Want to learn how to cook? Check. Learn how to fix a car? Check. How to do your taxes, lose weight, study better, coach a sports team? All of it. You can also learn about history, from your city to your country to the world, discover different cultures, read a biographical account of someone you look up to (or maybe someone you’ve never heard of!), or learn about new religions, techniques to manage stress, etc. I could go on, and on, AND ON — but I won’t. Basically, anything you could possibly want to learn can be found by reading!
  2. Expand your vocabulary – It’s likely that at some point while you’re reading, you’ll come across some new words that you may not be familiar with just yet! Reading will give you new words in your vocabulary and allow you to express yourself in ways you never thought possible.
  3. Encourage creativity – By reading creative works by others, you’ll be in turn, encouraging your own creativity. Reading will get the wheels turning in your head and encourage you to think on new, unique levels, challenging everyday stereotypes and allowing you to think about things that you may have never thought possible before. I mean, if J.K. Rowling can write a kick-ass seven-book series about a boy who finds out he’s a wizard (etc. etc.), and there’s probably books out there about everything from unicorns to pigs flying to boys who become invisible…. it really opens your mind to the creative world and gets you thinking!
  4. Explore new and different worlds – Reading can allow to you explore different worlds, different countries, different continents… everything from your very city to a fictional community on Mars is open to you through reading. Reading also allows us to explore different situations that we may or may not ever find ourselves in, but allows us to see  these different situations and think about what we would do if we were in them.
  5. Keep your mind open to new possibilities – Reading will challenge your routine thoughts and push you to think outside the box. Reading fiction will open your mind to completely different things and allow you to realize the potential of new and different things in the world today. Reading nonfiction opens your mind to all the world, historical and present, and will help keep your brain active and your mind flowing. Reading may also make you more understanding and less judgmental of others, which ties in with my next point…..
  6. See life and the world through someone else’s eyes – As a 23-year-old girl living in Buffalo, New York, my worldview is limited at best. But reading allows me to see the world through so many different lenses. I can see what life was like during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the 1940s; I can see life through the eyes of two young boys living in Afghanistan; I can read about war accounts through the eyes of the people – both soldier and civilian – who lived in it. I can read about other people’s struggles and triumphs and get different accounts of life around the world, in different time periods, just by picking up a book.
  7. Escape from reality – Reading allows you to escape from your reality, as well as the general reality we live in. It allows you to become absorbed in the life of someone completely different from yourself. It also may allow you to transport yourself to a completely different world or historical era. Basically, getting caught up in a good book is a great escape from your present situation. Sometimes, I get so caught up in what I’m reading that I completely forget that I’m sitting at home in the parlor of my house in Buffalo, New York.
  8. Stimulate your mind – prevent stress, Alzheimer’s etc. – There have been scientific studies that prove the benefits of reading. It stimulates your mind and can help prevent stress and lessen the affects of Alzheimer’s. Reading keeps your mind busy and active on a regular basis, and being able to learn new things and escape to different worlds may help you forget the stress you’re currently dealing with. In addition, there are so many self-help books out there nowadays; these books will introduce new skill sets and new techniques for dealing with things like stress, anxiety, etc.
  9. Improve writing skills – Whether you’re actually interested in writing or not, reading helps you become a better writer. You’ll learn new vocabulary as well as sentence structures, characterization techniques, plot twists, and more. You’ll be able to connect different plot points in new and unique ways that may give you ideas for your own writing. You’ll learn new styles of writing, new ways to keep readers on their toes, and new ways to pull people into a story. If you want to be a good writer, you absolutely have to read.
  10. Enhance analytical skills and problem-solving skills. – Reading enhances these skills because it pushes you to think about things in new and different ways. As you’re reading a story, you may find yourself trying to connect things, trying to put the pieces together as you go along – and that’s great! Trying to analyze choices and options and connect people to events and figure out how things end is a great exercise for your mind and really boosts your problem-solving and analytical skills.

So tell me, fair readers of this blog…. what are your favorite benefits of reading? WHY do you read?