I’ve seen a fair few debates about the best way to read – real paper books versus digital. In today’s world of technology it seems that everyone is stuck in front of a screen of some sort for the majority of the day. Many have forgotten what it is like to curl up with a good book, a real in your hands one, not a digital one! Honestly, I don’t think it really matters either way and I alternate between paper and digital books. I think the bigger issue is whether you are reading books or not. It really doesn’t matter how you read them, as long as you are reading.
And by reading, I mean an actual story, not just tweets and Facebook updates, more than a magazine or an ingredients list, I mean an actual book full of words and experiences and stories.
I was making small talk once with a new acquaintance and there was a big bestselling novel that everyone was raving about and when I bought it up with them they said, ‘oh no, I don’t read’. What, come again?! You don’t read?! I was thinking in my head, I’m sorry but we can’t be friends. But truth be told, there are a lot of people out there who don’t like to read. The last book they read was probably for a high school exam and only then under resistance and only then if they couldn’t find the movie version of the book. That wasn’t me.
I have always loved to read. I fondly remember doing RIBIT challenges in primary school (Read In Bed It’s Terrific) and was always involved in the MS Read-a-thon to the point that the neighbourhood caught on after a couple of years and instead of donating per book they would just give a bulk amount. Even without these challenges I would have been reading anyway. Right through high school I devoured books and unlike my friends I was reading the assigned text weeks in advance and also reading my own books at night. It sounds really nerdy now that I read back on it but you know what, I don’t care.
My daughter starts Prep School next year and on a recent form it asked me – how often do you and your child read books. I thought this was a surprising question because we read books every day, and we have done this since the day they were born. It is not something we force on them, it’s not something that we discussed and made a conscious decision to do, it just happened and they love it and I am happy that they do.
Why you should Read Books
There are so many benefits to reading and here is my take on what some of them might be and why I think you should find the time to pick up a book and read
Reading many different stories across a wide range of genres exposes you to plenty of characters and situations that you perhaps wouldn’t normally be in your everyday life. A good author will be able to transport you into their world so you can fully understand the emotions going on. This increases your ability to understand the thoughts and feelings other people might be having in the real world, whether you can personally relate to them or not. In short, this makes you a better person, a nicer person, a person who is far more open and accepting of others.
When you sit down and read a book it only takes about 5 minutes to notice that your heart rate has slowed down, your muscles have relaxed and your mind has stopped wandering. This is why I try and read every night before I go to sleep. It helps me to stop multitasking, to focus on this one thing so I can switch my mind off and get to sleep. Although, every so often I come across a completely engrossing book that I cannot put down and I end up staying up far too late reading “just one more page”. A quick side note here is that it is better to read paper books with a dimmed light at night when you are preparing for sleep because the light of electronic screens signals your brain to wake up, so try to opt for a real book at night.
Use it or Lose it
Reading is like exercise for your brain. There are numbers and statistics and research somewhere or other that explain that the mental stimulation of reading can slow the mental and memory decline of old age. I don’t know about you but I’d like to avoid Alzheimer’s disease if I can. Everyone seems to have a focus on their body at the moment, eating healthy, exercising, detox, cleanse, diet … but what about your mind – there are no excuses for this one, no rainy weather, no hidden chocolate biscuits.
There is always a huge section in the bookshop devoted to self help and for good reason, it is good to help yourself. It has been referred to as ‘biblio-therapy’, and it is great to see that books can motivate people, make them see that change is possible and ease their state of depression. But newsflash – you don’t have to be depressed to benefit from it. I always feel better and happier when I am learning. Knowledge is a very powerful tool to have and one that no one can ever take away from you.
You increase your vocabulary by exposing yourself to more words making you more articulate and better able to express yourself. Further to this it gives you better writing skills. Reading can ameliorate (go on – look it up!) your speaking and writing fluency when learning another language. Reading improves your memory. Reading gives you stronger analytical thinking skills, especially when reading ‘whodunnit’ type books. Reading improves your concentration as you switch off your multi-tasking mind, reading creates better focus. Oh, and obviously, it makes you smarter.
Reading books is good for your budget. Yes, you might buy some books but if you are smart about it you will shop around for a good price, you can also visit your local library, swap with fellow readers, find second hand bookstores, find free downloads online, borrow from family and friends and ask for them as gifts. I buy a lot of my books through Book Depository (yes, this is an affiliate link) because they are cheap, quick to arrive and I like getting parcels at my door. I dare you to cancel your pay TV subscription and buy some books instead.
There are so many types of books you can be reading …. whatever tickles your fancy, be sure to pick up a book and read it, it’s good for you! I do it every day. It’s like brushing my teeth. No matter how tired I am I climb into bed and pick up my book, even if I only make it through a page or two before my eyelids can no longer stay open.
What have you read recently?
Do you read to your kids every day?
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