6 reasons to keep reading books

Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2019

Elderly woman with grey hair and glasses reading a book with a plain green cover outside

Ask any self-proclaimed bookworm – there’s nothing more satisfying than the musky smell of an old book or the crisp feel of a new one.

If you’re no longer in the habit of reading anything lengthier than this article, be patient with us – we’re about to give you 6 good reasons to invest your time in a real, three-hundred-something page book.

1. Reading expands your vocabulary

post-it notes that read words have power

Novelists have a knack for painting incredibly detailed scenes in our minds, simply using language.

Instead of saying a character ‘walked off’, a seasoned author might say they ‘sauntered away’.  Or in describing a climate, they might use the word ‘arid’ instead of ‘very dry’.

For non-native speakers, reading fiction is particularly vital as it helps them learn new words in context.

By regularly exposing yourself to words you’re unfamiliar with, you’ll naturally expand your vocabulary. And with more words in your arsenal, you’re likely to become a more articulate speaker and writer, too.

2. Reading boosts your brain power

Book shelf with hundreds of books

You know it does a world of good to keep the body active. Well, same goes for the brain.

Books are for the brain what dumbbells are for the body.

When you decide to delve into a new book, you’re relying on a number of brain functions, including visual processing, fluency and comprehension. Not to mention, there’s a ton of new information to remember.

Any given novel will have a mixed bag of characters, each with their own back stories, nuances and sub-plots. Luckily, the brain is well equipped for this kind of heavy lifting – but it’s still important to keep it in the habit.

When you do mental exercises like reading, you’re creating new pathways and strengthening existing ones. And although brain function tends to wane with age, studies show that regular reading can help slow down age-related cognitive decline.

READ >> 10 tips for better brain health

3. Reading helps you empathise with others

Hands outstretched holding books of multiple colours

Reading transports you to another time and place, helping you see the world through another set of eyes.

Pride and Prejudice taught us that first impressions are often shallow. The Catcher in the Rye taught us how to spot a phony. To Kill a Mockingbird taught us to look at things from someone else’s perspective.

According to research published in Science, literary fiction, as opposed to non-fiction, helps you become more empathetic, by improving how you read emotions and helping you understand what others are thinking.

4. Reading helps reduce stress

Open book laying in grass with sun rays

A captivating book keeps you in the moment, allowing you to slip away from stress.

When you’re so absorbed by a story, it’s easy to ignore any nagging worries lingering in your mind. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, your primary concern isn’t even about you – it’s about Leemet and whether or not he’ll leave the forest and his family for good.

Researchers found that reading can be even more relaxing than listening to music, having a hot drink or taking a walk, with subjects showing a 68% reduction in stress after just six minutes of reading.

READ >> 10 simple stress relief remedies

5. Reading helps you fall asleep

Book laying open next to pillow, reading glasses and an alarm clock

There’s a reason bedtime stories put little ones to sleep.

Having a reading ritual before bed tells your body it’s time to get some shut eye. The more regular your habit, the more likely your brain will associate the activity with sleep.

But instead of a downloadable eBook, it’s best to stick to the physical variety. Mobile devices emit blue light – an artificial light that has a tendency to disrupt our sleep-wake cycles.

READ >> 30 wellbeing tips for everybody

6. Reading keeps you entertained (for next to nothing!)

Elderly man with striped shirt reading a book outside

In terms of entertainment, there’s nothing more cost-effective than a real page-turner.

A good book will keep you entertained for hours at a time and days on end.

A brand new book might cost you $20, but there’s no reason it has to cost much at all. You could buy 10 books for $20 at an op-shop, or you could simply borrow them for free from a friend or your local library.

Tips to instil a lifelong reading habit

Books standing up on a light blue and green background

We all need strategies to help embed a habit into our lifestyle.

If you’d like to be more well-read but find it easier said than done, here are some tips to help you out.

  • Keep a book by your bed – but don’t just let it collect dust!
  • Get a library card – most libraries have books in larger text, if you need it.
  • Join a book club – your new friends will be counting on you!
  • Make a book bucket-list – whip it out whenever you’re due for a new read.
  • Keep a log of the books you’ve read – it’s pretty satisfying to see how far you’ve come!
  • Download eBooks – but avoid them before bed!
  • Find a quiet place to read – if it’s outdoors, even better!
  • Read to your kids or grand-kids – that will help them build the habit, too.
  • Visit used bookstores and op-shops – there are plenty of treasures to be found!
  • Read in bursts – like when you’re waiting in line or sitting on the train.
  • Choose wisely – because life’s too short for bad books!

At Brightwater, we’re all about wellbeing.

We provide home care, residential aged care and retirement living solutions for seniors, as well as support for younger people with complex disabilities.

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