Reading tops my list of favorite activities. Here are ten reasons why I read books and I think you should too.
1. To learn stuff
Reading is probably the single most educational activity you can participate in for free. It will expand your vocabulary, introduce you to new ideas and theories, and teach you about history, science, art, and world cultures. You can learn almost anything–from the most practical skills to the highest plane of philosophical thought–just from picking up a book.
2. To escape from reality
Sometimes life is overwhelming and you just need to escape for a little while. Television, movies, and video games offer escape, but they don’t come with any of the benefits that reading does, and they even have some major drawbacks, such as screen addiction, reduced attention span, and increased violent behavior.
3. To have adventures
Armchair travel is great because it’s free and not confined to destinations in the real world. I mean, Paris is great, but wouldn’t you rather spend a week at Hogwarts? Reading allows you to fight dragons, scale treacherous mountain peaks, and explore enchanted forests all without risk to life and limb. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
4. To give my brain a workout
Reading does a body good! Studies show that reading improves memory and can even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. That’s one preventative health care plan I can get on board with!
5. To better empathize with others
A study conducted in the Netherlands found that readers who are “emotionally transported” by a story become more empathetic. You might want to ditch a book if it doesn’t particularly grab you though; the study also found that readers who are not emotionally transported actually become less empathetic.
6. To make new friends
Being in a library is like being surrounded by good friends. I feel connected to many of the authors on my shelves–dead or alive–in myriad powerful ways. Reading can also lead to the formation of real-life friendships with people of similar literary tastes, and books are a great conversation starter at social gatherings.
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7. To nourish to my heart and soul
Book lovers have long known that reading can be a valuable tool in healing, but science has only recently caught up. Bibliotherapy, the use of books in a therapy setting to alleviate depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, has only recently become popular. One study revealed that guided bibliotherapy is even more effective for treating depression than conventional interventions.
8. To fuel my creativity
As a blogger, ideas are important to me. An empty creative fuel tank equates to no new blog posts, and the best way I know of to keep my tank topped off is to read as much as I possibly can. Studies have born this out and show that students who spend more time reading and writing score higher on creativity tests.
9. To relax and unwind
According to research at the University of Sussex, reading is one of the most effective methods for beating the plague of the 21st century–stress. The study showed that reading reduces stress by 68% and can thoroughly relax the body in just six minutes. Comparatively, listening to music reduces stress by 61%, having a cup of tea by 54%, taking a walk by 42%, and playing a video game by 21%. I think we have a winner!
10. Because I can
Over 1 billion people around the world are illiterate, including 32 million adults in the U.S. That number doesn’t include the 21% of adults who read below a 5th grade level. The numbers are worse for women, who fall over 7% behind their male counterparts globally. Education should be a right, but for many it’s not even an option. I’m lucky, and I’m going to take full advantage of that.
Why do you read books?