We live in a modern world of everything electronic, with a fast-paced online life. When was the last time you bought a good old paperback book? A recent study revealed that 28% of Americans haven’t even read one book in the past year. The results are indeed worrying, considering the fact that reading a book is much more than just a means to  filling up our free time.

Book reading is not mere entertainment; ‘compared with mainstream fiction, high-brow literary works do more to improve our ability to understand the thoughts, emotions, and motivations of those around us’, (David Kidd, Science journal).

Are you still not persuaded why you should swap the T.V remote with a book? Below are only some of the most important reasons why becoming a bookworm will make you become a better person and improve the quality of your life.

Reading makes you sleep better. Sleep experts advise that reading a book under a dim light, preferably not on your laptop, before sleep will help you relax and unwind. Especially if you are the kind of person whose thoughts run wild all night and are an important cause of your insomnia, absorbing  yourself in a calming book will ‘fool’ your mind and take it away from constant worrying and over thinking. Make sure the book you choose to read before sleep is not a bestseller that will keep you up all night. You can read more about the benefits of sleeping and its absolute necessity here.

Reading makes you smarter. Books are the workout the brain needs in order to stay optimal and healthy. People who read have been known to have higher grades and intelligence and more general knowledge than those who don’t read. Anne E. Cunningham, in her paper ‘What reading does for the mind’ has concluded that reading, in general. makes you much smarter and keeps you mentally fit and sharp, especially during the aging process.

Reading improves your communication skills and expands your vocabulary. they go hand in hand; the more new words you know, the better you will communicate with others. Reading certainly enhances our vocabulary and teaches us new meanings and uses for words we didn’t know about. Reading ‘exposes you to and lets you uncover the context of the words that you’ve probably never heard of before. Reading compels you to look up the meaning of the words you’ve just read, hence as you go further along, the more the sentences make sense to you than before you began reading them’ , (Examined Existence).

‘All successful writers will tell you that in order to write well, you need to read. Every day. You’ll be surprised at the words you start incorporating into your writing.

A beefier vocabulary isn’t just for writers though. Knowing what other people are saying and using the perfect words to convey your feelings is a critical part of being a better human. Better listeners are more successful in life’, (LifeDev).

Reading enhances empathy. In  a study conducted by Oatley and his associates, where empathy was measured, the people who scored the highest were fiction readers. Raymond Mar, a Canadian psychologist from York also supported the findings that people who read a lot were more empathic. ‘In his study, Mar subjected fiction and non-fiction readers to a battery of social reasoning exams. The results were just as promising: fiction readers demonstrated better results (hence, better empathy) than those who did not read such literary gems.’

A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance – Lyndon Baines Johnson

It improves memory and analytical skills. In the  study we mentioned before, Anne E. Cunningham of the University of Berkeley in California, also found that people who read books are able to spot patterns a lot quicker than people who don’t. Identification of patterns is highly associated with developed analytical skills. By reading, you constantly train your brain to retain the words, ideas and concepts you are reading about which aids in boosting your memory.

Reading helps reduce stress. Cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis conducted a study in which he asked a group of volunteers to read silently. It only took the participants six minutes of calm reading for their heart rate to slow down and ease tension in their muscles. ‘In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started’. You can read about other ways to cope with stress, here.

Igor Raffaele, a professional writer says: ‘unlike movies and comics, books train our imagination. The pages of a book demand that you conjure up their wondrous places and characters all on your own, from nothing but the fabric of your own thoughts.Reading is the only kind of brain training worth taking, because it forces our minds to expand until they can believe all those beautiful little creations, filled with elves and orcs and spaceships. Reading is the only way that we can train our minds to fully understand mankind’s greatest creations: truth, justice and fairness.’

What kind of books are better for me to read?  While reading in general is considered a great thing, some books are not so beneficial at any level compared to some others. Obviously, reading ’50 shades of grey’, will not enhance your vocabulary or make you smarter. A Sherlock Holmes book, will.

When picking a book, it is important to choose wisely. Go for a book that exposes you to new things, forcing you to use your critical thinking.While mystery novels force you to work on your working memory, fiction could be your window to self understanding and reflection.

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‘With the endless amount of perspectives and lives we can read about, books can give us an opportunity to have experiences that we haven’t had the opportunity to, and still allow us to learn the life skills they entail’, Harold Bloom.

So ladies, dust your bookcase and use it as your information center instead of  just a living room decoration. If you are the adventurous kind, go for a visit to your nearest library or bookstore and choose any book you feel like. Read slowly, with love and openness.

 

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all

– Jacqueline Kennedy

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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

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