The Benefits of Reading: 5 Reasons Why You Should Read More Books

By Izbel Torres on February 11, 2013

Book lovers are a dying breed today due to the emergence of television, movies, and the Internet. In today’s fast paced world, people consider spending time reading a book to be expendable and are rather willing to spend that time watching a two hour long movie. What people don’t realize is that movies and television paint the picture for us, while books allow us to imagine our own 'movies'. This is the reason why many believe the creative talent of today’s youth is fading, because while movies and television are highly entertaining and informative, books exercise the creative part of our brain by allowing us to form a picture from words on a page inside our heads. In a time where the world’s population is increasingly consumed by technological advances, it is vital that humans read constantly for the sake of obtaining the many benefits attained from reading books.

1. Expand Vocabulary

Experts advise people, and most importantly students, to indulge in at least half an hour of reading a day to expose themselves to numerous styles of writing and to learn new vocabulary. An improved vocabulary is the most obvious outcome of a strongly established habit of reading because “[w]hile reading books, especially challenging ones, you will find yourself exposed to many new words you wouldn’t be otherwise.” (Isaac). The editor at PicktheBrain.com claims that when reading “the classics”, one comes across words that are no longer commonly used; he states that “[h]aving a bigger vocabulary is like having a tool box with more tools. A larger arsenal of words enables one to express themself more eloquently.” (10 Ways to Improve).  The way this works is that by reading out loud at a young age, we become exposed to proper grammar and pronunciation and while looking at the words, our minds are able to both comprehend and store the information. When reading, “[e]ven when [we may not] understand every new word, [we] absorb something from the context that may deepen [our] understanding of it the next time the word is encountered.” (Freedman-De Vito). Our brains work similar to a sponge, they soak up every bit of knowledge we encounter and store it for future use.

2. Boost Creativity

Reading fiction books increase the creativity in the brain, especially at a young age. This is beneficial because creative people are able to solve business problems, write books and music, and create scientific advances that can aid humanity. Children’s literature author Conrad Bloomberg is a high believer that reading is vital for children to develop creativity and imagination. He states, “Most parents intuitively know that creativity is valuable, but they may not know an easy way to enhance this ability in their children. Science has now validated that reading aloud for only 30 minutes a day—and doing this with consistency—is one way to reach this goal.” (An Easy and Scientific). But perhaps the strongest recommendation comes from pediatricians who validate the same idea, claiming that children who do not read 30 minutes a day are unhealthy. Bloomberg himself specializes in books tailored to this need, and claims that reading aloud works especially well, “I call it the ‘Theater of the Mind’.”, he says, “ Every time I read a chapter, I ask my listeners if they could see a picture in their mind about what I was reading. I’ve found that virtually everyone hearing the chapter creates a mental movie.” (An Easy and Scientific). But imagination is not only about picturing words spoken aloud come to life in one’s head, “imagination is being able to see what you imagine” (Hall), and this entails more than just what can be physically visible. As the writer of the article “Reading Fuels Imagination”, Winston Hall writes, “In the past I used my imagination to picture barnyard animals and Dr. Seuss characters. Suddenly I was using my imagination to feel sadness, sympathy, happiness and excitement for the characters.” (Hall). Through imagination one can picture more than what can be reality but also what is reality, one can envision the perceptible emotions a fictional character experiences.

3. Improve Writing Skills

As previously stated, an improved vocabulary and increase of creativity and imagination are direct results of an established habit of reading; these benefits together create a third benefit of reading books. With the aid of an increased vocabulary and imagination, a writer has a better chance at creating an acceptable, if not excellent, piece of written work. All successful writers will declare that in order to succeed as a writer, one needs to read, every day. The editor at Pickthebrain.com explains that “[w]hile reading you unconsciously absorb the grammar and style of the author….Great authors have a tendency to take over your mind. After reading, I’ve observed that my thoughts begin to mirror the writer’s style.” (10 Ways to Improve). This influence carries over to writing, helping form clear, rhythmic sentences. Books have the power to influence people, often for short lengths of time; even so, a writer’s style of writing can easily be carried out onto a reader’s own style of writing. This causes the reader to develop a fusion of their own style and an author’s style of writing, if only for a short time.

4. Enhance Memory

Memory and reading are in close interaction with one another, reading significantly helps improve memory at a young age in life and later on in one’s older years. Poor long-term memory can cause difficulties with reading or reading comprehension. Reading books “helps you stretch your memory muscles….[because] it requires you remembering details, facts and figures in literature, plot lines, themes, and characters.” (Isaac). As one writer posted in a segment titled “8 Benefits of Reading” on lifedev.net, “I’ve been finding that I can remember stuff much easier when I’ve been reading consistently.” (Stansberry). When one reaches a certain age where they no longer have a long-term memory, it becomes exceedingly difficult to successfully read an entire book. This is due to the fact that with poor long-term memory, the reader often does not remember which lines he or she has already read and may find they repeatedly read the same line or page on a book.

5. Develop Analytical Thinking

It is recognized that those who take an active involvement in reading have “higher GPA’s, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than those [who] don’t.” (Stansberry). Reading is an indulgence that enhances our knowledge by making us use our brain and causing us to think more and therefore enhancing our intelligence. Since books help improve both memory and concentration, one can say that reading makes it easier to study a subject and retain the knowledge received from the subject, thus directly making someone more knowledgeable. Dr. Anne E. Cunningham, of the University of California Berkeley, has shown through studies that reading enhances analytical thinking, “Readers improve their general knowledge, and more importantly are able to spot patterns quicker.” (Stansberry). If one can spot patterns at a faster rate, then analytical skills are enhanced by speed. Books are used nearly every day in schools to teach difficult subjects, there is a reason why schools of all grades assign a variety of textbooks. This is because books hold a variety of information within their pages, of all subjects. Brian Tracy, a self-help author, has said that “one way to become an expert in your chosen field is to read 100 books on the subject.” (Isaac). To some, this may seem preposterous but the matter of fact is that different authors know different kinds of knowledge, and by exposing oneself to a large variety of books and absorbing their information with understanding, one can easily become an expert in a chosen subject.

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