Books bring very distinct and unique sensations. The smell of paper, the feeling of the letters printed into it and the solid covers. It is an art to print a book, but even greater to write it. However, reading such has its artistry as well.
I have always been fascinated with the miracle of books, even way before I started reading them. I used to walk in my grandmother’s library and touch the fancy looking volumes on the shelfs. I had favourites, which I kept browsing through, so I can look at the pictures and drawings. Reading though, looked too hard and time consuming.
My teenager years and crazy hormones however, brought the concept of cheesy romance novels, which I consumed almost seamlessly. This first touch with the reading addiction was badly written and ended quick, but left in me a hungry mind, ready to consume more and more obscure concepts and scenarios.
Oh, let me tell you how many opportunities you have in the library, when the whole time in the world is yours. My school summers were marked by book experimentations, which challenged my understanding of basic existential concepts (like love, friendship, integrity, faith and more), but moreover ancient mysteries and dilemmas that opened my mind for the existing of the impossible.
Years later, my well-trained reading habits, including hundreds of pages per day were rudely abrupted by going to university. No matter how hard you try to stay in line with who you were before university, it is proven to successfully ruin 9/10 routines (khum.. lives).
So, the months were passing, and I miserably was trying to finish a Stephen King novel, while putting more and more books on my plate related only to my studies. Reading became a task, it was no longer a pleasure. I started using YouTube as my entertainment. I let my studies take the pleasure of my free time, so books became just a mere vessel of knowledge, but it no longer entertained, they just educated me.
Moving two years forward, I am on my first vacation back home, and as memories come back, old habits do as well. Grabbing a book now, with no regrets of time lost or a lesson not being learned, I feel the freedom and the amazing clarity a book gives to the mind. For me, this is the successful way in which my brain gets away from the stress and flies though the dimensions. It is something I clearly missed for a long time and also something I regret I did not hold on to, because work is for the workplace and the book belongs right there, next to your bed, where you (wrongly) put your phone.
In the light of those current events and the bookworm mood I am in, I decided to remind you all how important reading is. Not because it makes you a smartass or because you will be stupid if you don’t read, but just because it gives a whole new light and meaning to what you once knew. It gives you the opportunity to educate yourself in every field you want, give you an example of the emotional intelligence you may lack and most importantly the key for the door of entertainment, creativity and all those worlds you are yet to conquer.
If you have not yet made up your mind, I will give you a few more important reasons why you should read more.
- Helps prevent illnesses – Reading does wonders for our brains. Studies show that being mentally stimulated can lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to the fact that mentally challenging tasks help to maintain and build brain cells, as well as the connections between them. (Research, n.d.)
- Improves imagination – As Albert Einstein says, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. While reading we do not only learn facts and gain new knowledge, we also develop our imagination. We often imagine the worlds, people and situations we read about, which stimulates the right (creative) side of our brains.
A neurological research conducted at Emory University discovered that reading fiction can improve brain function in many different aspects. Similar to muscle memory, reading fiction was found to develop our imagination. Furthermore, this activity helps people use their imagination to immerse in the storyline and detach from their everyday life and worries, therefore help them destress. (Brain Connectivity, 2013) (Birkerts, 2012).
- Develops critical thinking – It is proven that reading develops critical thinking skills. But you may ask, why is this important? Didn’t we use this only in our literature classes?
Critical thinking is actually the skill of objective analysis and forming of a judgement. It can be quite beneficial in our everyday tasks, work projects and even relationships, as we will be able to see and analyse more details and develop a fuller picture of what evidence we have to form a certain opinion.
- Builds vocabulary – The more you read, the more prone you are to better understand words and phrases or even remember them, so they can become a part of your vocabulary. This was of great help for me when I was studying English and I recommend it for everyone who wants to improve their language skills.
- Improves focus and concentration – While on my reading pause, I started watching a ton of YouTube videos. Even though some of them were not pure entertainment, but also had an educating purpose I started feeling more and more distracted by the world around me. All of a sudden, watching a video was not enough, I had to also scroll through my feed or check something online. A proven effect by many digital media sources of which I still cannot get rid of.
Books however, improve your concentration and the quality of your focus. The perfect cure for our online addictions.
- Cheap entertainment – As a student, I do get the need of one. But instead of giving your last money for alcohol, concert entries or movie premieres, save it and go for a free book from the library instead. No need for further explanation.
- Improves morals – Going through their rises and falls, through their best and worst, we start to feel empathy for our favourite characters. Moreover, we suffer when they do and also learn from their mistakes. Nothing can improve our morals as the ugliest stories and the characters we love to hate.
All in all, I do believe words hold some unknown power, some magic I cannot explain. They enlighten, inspire people, and drive the world to be a better place.
I hope I did inspire at least some of you to remove the dust from your favourite novel and take at least an hour from your day for the good old written media.
Research, F. C. (n.d.). Keep Reading to Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay. Retrieved from https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/reading-alzheimers-bay/
Birkerts, S. (2012). Why Read?. School Library Journal, 58(3), (p.27).
Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. Berns Gregory S., Blaine Kristina, Prietula Michael J., and Pye Brandon E. Brain Connectivity. 2013, 3(6): 590-600