I remember the many times my mother and my older brother tried to get me to read a certain book because they thought I would like it. Having failed at that attempt, they would try again with another book. And, another. Then, another. I struggled with reading, even thinking I didn’t like to read. Never mind that I would inevitably stumble on a book I really enjoyed. I would consume that book like a starving beggar takes after a half-eaten sandwich. Sadly, this didn’t happen very often during my adolescent years. During those years, I wasted many opportunities at no fault to my parents or my siblings. I am grateful in the time since I’ve learned about many books that appeal to me. I am grateful for the wonders I’ve come to know because of reading. There are so many benefits to reading. Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “From the reading of good books there comes a richness of life that can be obtained in no other way.” I am grateful that I have found this to be true in my life.
Indeed, reading is one of the best hobbies a person can develop. I wonder why it is so hard to teach a love of reading. Why do some people find that enjoyment sooner than others? Why do some of us never find that wonder? Many truly believe they “don’t need no stinking books.” Well, here’s a small list of some very good reasons to start reading habitually.
1. An active mental process: Yes, reading makes you use your brain, which is very different than what you’re doing while sitting in front of the T.V. This process exercises those little things we like to call grey cells – you know, your brain. People get smarter when they think. Who doesn’t want to be smarter?
2. Improve your vocabulary: It’s true; reading will improve your vocabulary. You might remember this little exercise from elementary school. By reading the words around an unfamiliar word, I had to decipher the meaning of that word. You know what? I still do that when I read. When you read books, more particularly the more challenging books, you are more likely to be exposed to words with which you are not familiar. New words don’t have to be scary. I think this is a far better process of learning new words than those word-of-the-day calendars.
3. Glimpses into other worlds: The marvels of reading includes being able to go places you’ve never been, be exposed to new cultures and gain new insight. The strength of diversity right in your own living room! Imagine that. You could go anywhere in the world just by reading a book. Reading books can give you an insight into diverse places, people, cultures, customs and lifestyles. It’s a broad window into a very large world.
4. Improves concentration and focus: Reading a book requires you to focus on what you are reading for long periods. It’s not like reading a magazine, an internet post or even some of the longest e-mails. These all contain small chunks of information whereas books tell the whole story. Concentrating is like exercising your brain (see #1).
5. Self-esteem: The more you read, the more you learn, the more confidence you’ll gain. Confidence is the foundation of self-esteem. A wonderful chain reaction. When you learn things, people will start asking you for the answers. More self-esteem! Who doesn’t need that kind of shot in the arm!
6. Memory: If you don’t use your memory, you’ll lose it. Studies have shown crossword puzzles might stave off Alzheimer’s. Did you know reading has been found to do the same? Reading exercises your brain in ways similar to crossword puzzles. When you read, you need to remember details, facts and figures. Literature has plot lines, themes and characters that need to be remembered.
7. Creativity: A springboard for creativity, reading exposes you to new ideas and more information. This helps develop the creative side of the brain. It imbibes innovation.
8. Reduce Boredom: “Boredom is the result of a weak mind.” I read that a little while ago and I thought that was pretty good. When you are wondering what to do and you feel boredom coming on, pull out a book. Two things will happen. You’ll stave off that boredom and you’ll exercise your brain.
So, if you are looking for a way to break from a monotonous, lazy, uncreative and boring life, go grab a book. Find yourself a new world filled with information. I’m grateful for the worlds I’ve visited through books. I’m grateful for the how much better I feel about myself, my abilities and what I know because of the books I’ve read. I am grateful for the world of reading.