Guide

Benefits of Reading Books: An Insight Into A Productive And Relaxing Hobby

Reading books is a hobby that keeps you engaged productively and doesn’t let you go astray. Those who read books seek divinity because they seek wisdom and knowledge, two things which are the sublime features of someone powerful and impactful.  

When we talk about reading,the first thing that gets conjured up in our mind is of sitting in a cozy room with our favorite snacks around us (can be accompanied by your favorite beverage be it coffee or tea or your flair for wine) and we being engaged in deciphering the profundity of something that has occurred in book.

Often it is the brevity and succinct nature of text which keeps us preoccupied with the stream of ideas which forms the core of any book be it some magnum opus of William Shakespeare or some humble book of Mark Twain.

In today’s age and time, we have seen that many youngsters tend to gravitate more and more towards hobbies and chores which are a far cry from the joys of reading.

For this the entire onus has to be put on the technological advancement which has brought in a large amount of Gizmos in the market making our young population confused between what to choose whether the friendship with the old and trusted friend “Reading” should be ended and a new relationship should be commenced with an uncertain partner known as “Technology”.

Abandoning reading for one’s love for technology is the worst break-up story one can ever hear of (it is even worse than that of Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes). What has to be done then? One should forge a love triangle between them, their love for reading and their love for technological products.

A love triangle with a three way love traffic is the most desirable model here as technology is the necessity of time and reading is the necessity of heart and mind since it nourishes them like bread and butter nourishes you ( if you eat cereal then those nourish you) and water nourishes a plant.

Benefits of reading books remain manifold as you can always choose between what to read and what not to no matter how extenuating the circumstances get, no matter you travel through a storm without a WiFi but you still have your hardcover of “The Old Man and The Sea” by our very own American legend Ernest Hemingway or any “Harry Potter” series novel from J.K.Rowling.

Books are forever to exist and you can even read them on a computer by using technology so books are omnipresent and ubiquitous and therefore, one cannot deny their significance or discount their worth as an asset to anyone with a sane mind with clarity.

Why should you read a book everyday?

Seniors who regularly read books for pleasure live on average two years longer than those who do not read books, and are 20% less likely to die over a 12-year period, according to a Yale University study.

Researchers on mind simulation through books

The researchers found that participants in the Health and Retirement study benefit more from reading books than from newspapers or magazines, probably because books stimulate the mind more.

Science magazine on reading

A study published in Science magazine in 2013 explains that reading the literary classics increases the ability to recognize the emotions of others. In fact, in the old books, the authors focused their stories on complex characters, in constant evolution.

Thus, the reader is imbued with the many emotions felt during reading and develops strong empathy skills.Whether one is small or large, reading allows us to build ourselves but also to make a parenthesis of daily life for a moment.

When was the last time you took the time to read a book? Or even an entire article from a newspaper or magazine? Giving yourself time to read daily has many benefits.

The advantages of reading

Health benefits for readers

More and more research shows that reading also improves health and quality of life in several ways:

1. Stimulation of brain connections: Brain scans have shown that people who read a compelling novel increase their brain connections and exhibit lasting neurological changes, similar to muscle memory*, according to a study in Brain Connectivity.

All lovers of reading will tell you: reading makes you happy and sometimes a little addicted too. And not only is this activity good for morale, it also helps boost our brain.

Just as knitting stimulates neuronal connections and allows them to function more efficiently, reading makes memory work and helps to keep the mind clearer.

It is therefore a true gymnastics of the brain that operates when you immerse yourself in a book. According to an article in the US version of the Huffington Post, regular reading would even help reduce cognitive impairment by 32%. In short, if you want to keep your brain healthy, open a book.

2. Relaxation and stress reduction: According to a study by the University of Sussex, reading reduces stress by 68%* and works even better and faster than other relaxation methods such as listening to music, taking a walk or having a cup of tea.

It took participants only six minutes of reading to slow their heart rate and relieve muscle tension.To knockout anxiety, there are those who will open a good bottle of wine, those who will practice yoga, and those who will open a good book.

Yes, because in addition to doing good to our brains, reading helps to significantly reduce stress. A study conducted by the University of Sussex in 2009 and reported by The Telegraph, thus indicates that when we read, our mind is obliged to focus on what is written. When we do, we forget our worries for a while, and the tensions that had appeared in our muscles and heart gradually disappear.

Neuropsychologist David Lewis estimates that reading reduces stress by 68%, which is better than music (61%) or a cup of tea (54%). He concludes: “Getting lost in a book is the ultimate relaxation. No matter which book you choose, by letting yourself be absorbed by it, you escape your worries and the real world that can be a source of stress”.

3. Improved empathy: A person who reads narrative fiction improves their empathy by understanding what others think and feel*, reports a York University study. Empathy, on the other hand, helps reduce stress*, according to the University of British Columbia.

4. Alleviation of chronic pain: Reading short stories, novels or poems in small groups is an effective therapy to help people with chronic pain ease their emotional suffering*, reports BMJ’s Medical Humanities magazine.

5. Improved mood: People with depression have improved their social, mental, emotional and psychological skills, as well as their well-being*, after participating in reading groups for 12 months, according to the University of Liverpool.

6. Protection of memory and reasoning skills: According to a study by Neurology, reading books and journals, as well as writing, can help preserve memory and reasoning skills longer and slow cognitive decline in older adults.

7. Improved quality of life and care: Reading aloud to people with cognitive disabilities improves their mood, concentration and memory, and increases their social interactions*, reports the University of Liverpool. Regular reading has also improved the quality of life of participants and the effect of the care they receive.

Reading reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s

Reading is not the miracle cure for some neurodegenerative diseases.

Nevertheless, a study published in 2001 in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that people who engage in certain intellectual activities – such as puzzles, chess, or reading – would be 2,5% less likely than others to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Robert P. Friedland, one of the researchers in charge of the study, believes that the brain works like any other organ in the body.

It just needs to be stimulated so it doesn’t wear out too fast. Just as physical activity strengthens the heart, muscles and bones, intellectual activity strengthens the brain and helps it fight certain diseases,’ the professor concludes.

Reading helps to better understand things

If you have replaced your books with an e-book, this study conducted in Norway may make you rethink your choice. In fact, researchers have realized that touching the paper makes it possible to better understand the text and not miss crucial elements.

On the other hand, reading on a reader or tablet prevents physical contact with the paper. The reader will more easily get lost and therefore less well understand certain things. To truly enjoy the benefits of reading, it is better to put a book in your bag rather than a reader.

Reading helps you sleep better

If you are having trouble sleeping, it is best to read a little before turning off the light. A study conducted by the famous Mayo Clinic explains that by opening a book every night, a ritual is instituted. A signal is then sent to our body to make it understand that it is time to rest.

But be careful, this does not apply to readings on computers, tablets or smartphones. These electronic devices return a blue light (LED) that alters the quality of sleep and can even disrupt the biological clock.

Reading contributes to vocabulary development

It makes sense. More or less, the more you add to your vocabulary. A study conducted by the University of Berkeley in California even estimates that children’s literature exposes children to 50% more words than a television show.

And the more regular this exposure is in the little reader, the more he will become good at school and develop his intelligence. A study published in the Science Daily even reports that early readers are sure to become very intelligent as they grow up.

Reading helps to better understand things

If you have replaced your books with an e-book, this study conducted in Norway may make you rethink your choice. In fact, researchers have realized that touching the paper makes it possible to better understand the text and not miss crucial elements.

On the other hand, reading on a reader or tablet prevents physical contact with the paper. The reader will more easily get lost and therefore less well understand certain things. To truly enjoy the benefits of reading, it is better to put a book in your bag rather than a reader.

Psychological benefits of reading

Reading has a positive influence on our minds and our lives. On a physiological level, it has been shown that those who read are able to increase the connectivity of their neurons. Pleasant hobby for some, obligation for others, reading is a beneficial mental exercise.

“Just as we take care of ourselves while playing sports, we should dedicate 30 minutes each day to reading”, Emili Teixidor (Catalan author).

Promoting concentration and empathy, preventing cognitive degeneration and predicting career success are some of the benefits of reading.

For Ángel Gabilondo, professor of philosophy at the University of Madrid, “the act of reading is part of the act of living. [Reading] creates, recreates and transforms. A good selection of books is like a good selection of foods: nutritious”.

Why is reading good for mental health?

For Emili Teixidor, “reading is the only instrument that the brain has to progress, it offers us the food that keeps the brain alive”. Exercising your mind through reading promotes concentration.

Even if, once learned, reading seems an innate process in our minds, reading is an unnatural activity. The human reader has arisen from his constant struggle against distraction, as the natural state of the brain tends to drift in the face of any new stimulus.

Not being alert, according to evolutionary psychology, could cost the lives of our ancestors: if a hunter did not pay attention to the stimuli that surrounded him, he risked being eaten or starved by not knowing where the food sources were. It is in this that standing still on a process such as reading is unnatural.

“The ability to focus on a single task without interrupting is an anomaly in the history of our psychological development” (Vaughan Bell, researcher and psychologist at King’s College, London).

For Nicholas Carr, only reading requires “deep concentration by combining the deciphering of the text and the interpretation of its meaning”. Although reading is a forced process, the mind recreates every word by activating many intellectual vibrations.

What happens when you read?

Right now, as you read this article, the left hemisphere of your brain is working at great speed to activate different areas.

Your eyes scan the text to recognize the shape of each letter, and your inferotemporal cortex, the area of the brain specialized in detecting written words, activates to transmit information to other brain regions. Your brain constantly repeats this complex process during reading.

The reading activity, which the brain carries out with such ease, has an impact on our intellectual development.

The ability to read changes the brain,” argues neurologist Stanislas Dehaene, professor of Cognitive Experimental Psychology at the Collège de France in his book “Les neurones de la lecture”. And indeed, there is more grey matter in the heads of those who read, and more neurons in the brains of readers.

The power of imagination

The power of the mind is so strong that it recreates what literature imagines, activating the same areas of the brain that are activated when the action is actually performed. In a 2009 article published in the journal “Psychological Science”, Nicole K. Speer states:

‘Readers mentally simulate every new situation in a narrative. The details of the actions in the text are integrated with the personal knowledge of past experiences”.

Reading, a source of experience

Reading allows us to live new experiences. Literature, especially fiction, has a great emotional effect on the reader, who is able to feel emotions that it could have taken several decades to discover. It also helps to feel empathy for the characters you identify with throughout the narrative.

Psychologist Raymond Mar and his team at the University of Toronto proved in 2006 that people who read novels are more empathetic than readers of specific books or non-lecturers.

When measuring social skills and how the two types of readers interacted, they noted that readers of literary genres were easier to put themselves in the place of others.

Interpreting the reality

Good literature has always been opposed to a system of hegemonic values, which value and prioritize the search for power and money. Writers often line up on the opposite side of this world view.

Thus, reading is a more than effective vehicle for interpreting the reality around us. Books help us to sympathize with the ideas and feelings that oppose the cynicism and hypocrisy of the world.

“In authoritarian countries, reading will always be persecuted for its contribution to the development of freedom of expression, culture and information,” says César Antonio Molina, former Spanish Minister of Culture and director of the House of Books.

Development of communication skills

As Cicero said, “speaking is not learned by speaking, but by reading”. Far from the solitary and introverted image that is often attached to the reader, those who read develop much more of their communicative skills.

“By enriching the vocabulary and improving the syntax and grammar, we learn to speak properly and fairly,” argues Ángel Gabilondo.

Making correct use of language is well valued socially, and those who feed their dialectic through reading are perceived by others as individuals with great leadership abilities, and more professionally appreciated.

Another point of view on psychological side of reading

Literature is a great simulator of reality. It is like a time machine that transports us in a few moments into different times and situations, with their particular characteristics and characters.

It helps us to be friendlier to others, teaches us to see the world from their point of view, while taking into account the consequences that our actions can have on others. It also proves to us the simplicity of virtues such as goodness, generosity and sympathy.

Reading is not old

Reading is a good habit for everyone, as the benefits mentioned apply to everyone, regardless of the age or condition of the reader. It is certain that each age has its own preferences and habits, but the positive results are equal for all.

Reading, however, makes sense when you get older. Neurologists and psychologists recommend “reading as a preventive method against Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases”, points out Dr Pablo Martínez-Lage, coordinator of the Conduct and Dementia Study Group of the Spanish Neurological Society.

Dementia and reading

When the person begins to show signs of dementia and to lose independence, two factors influence: the damage the disease may have caused and the loss of the ability to compensate.

To compensate is to set in motion certain areas of the brain that were not functioning before, to set in motion the cognitive reserve, that is to say the intellectual capacity accumulated throughout life through intellectual knowledge and activities. Hence the importance of reading.

For all these reasons, literature is an elixir that exists to help us live with a little more wisdom and goodness, no matter our age or our situation.

A mental tool for facing failure

Literature is useful because it helps us to prepare ourselves as best we can against failure. No one wants to fail in life, but we will find in reading the tools that will allow us to recognize that failure exists and that it can go beyond itself to come out stronger and finally achieve the success we are aiming for.

Study by the University of Oxford

According to a study by the University of Oxford, reading could predict professional success. Those who have been avid readers in their teens are more likely to triumph as adults.

For more than two decades, psychologist Mark Taylor’s research team analyzed the habits and practices of almost 20,000 youth to determine which activities could predict career success at age 30.

No extracurricular activities (such as going to the movies or playing sports) have had a significant impact.

But reading, yes. Women who were reading books for pleasure at the age of 16 were 39% lucky to have a management position at the age of 30, compared to 25% of non-readers. For men, who have more opportunities to reach these leadership positions, the figure rose from 48% for those who did not read to 58% for those who read.

Conclusion

In light of the arguments this article has put forth, it can be asserted that reading books has no other substitute in the world and it remains something of immense significance.

Just as eating your favorite meal and drinking your favorite beverage remains integral to one’s being in a similar manner reading your favorite book remains the favorite food and beverage of your soul which transcends any material requirements of the daily routine of a living being which can be fulfilled through the placing of a certain degree of premium on technological innovations.

Reading books has a whole range of benefits no matter how diminishing the trends may seem now towards it and even though there is now a growing number of people who rather want to enjoy a series on Netflix than a book be it soft copy or hard copy.

The future remains bright for books and reading and for writers who write the books in the first place as books remain the most cherished possession of mankind since the inception of humanity.

People may stop reading books but will continue to keep them as decoration pieces and as a better replacement of some typical wall-flower therefore books never get out of fashion.