Benefits of Reading

Having taught writing at the college level, I am very well aware of the poorly disguised agony that most people exhibit upon hearing “reading.” Yes, in the age of Keeping up with the Kardashians and Donald Trump running for president, reading does seem passe, almost antiquated. Why read, after all, when we live in this glorious digital age of Facebook, YouTube, and lolcats? unlles u want all ur wrldly txt 2 b like dis its prob best if sum1 oot ther figs out theese things b4 every1 is reduced 2 sum riting dunces that dont now punktuashun or spellin then ur prt is clear

Read. Reading helps everything. From improving your memory and writing skills to jump-starting your critical thinking skills, reading can greatly improve your mental skills. Also, because you’ll have more to talk about on those blind dates, I’d bet that you’d be more likely to hit that second date. Don’t get me wrong; I love Tosh.O. And cats. They just don’t hold up to first-date conversations like that latest Chuck Palahniuk novel. In addition, you’ll gain a wider variety of viewpoints to consider, which makes it easier to interface with other human folk.

What are the benefits of reading?

One of the many benefits of reading is improved memory. This may be particularly helpful for older adults who may be worried about Alzheimer’s. Reading helps keep those brain cells all limber, just as the rest of you needs to be. If you don’t read, or if you don’t read pieces that are slightly challenging, you’re going to get rusty. Picking up a book (or e-reader) will force your brain to use parts that are not engaged with other activities (such as watching TV or listening to an audiobook). Memory increases, but reading also helps the brain practice focus and concentration. Current neuroscience supports this, but, more importantly, so does Oprah. Check out her book club.

Another of these benefits of reading is improved vocabulary and writing skills. This isn’t much of a stretch, really. Reading, especially pieces with a more-challenging-than-Cosmo reading level, shows you how writing works in action. It rubs off on you. You may not know how to properly use a semicolon; however, after reading and seeing them in use, you’ll probably figure it out. Reading can not only help you with vocabulary but with sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, and more. The trick is to choose writing that is slightly above your current reading level; this keeps your brain challenged and active. Think of it like exercise; if you challenge yourself, you’ll continue to improve.

Reading benefits include improved critical thinking skills.Regular reading not only makes you more knowledgeable about the world, it actually makes you smarter. Because “smarter” is a term open to interpretation, I’ll be more specific: reading increases your critical thinking skills. This makes a person more likely to identify patterns, determine cause and effect, and generally improve analysis skills. This can help you solve problems more easily, score higher on standardized testing, and find more connections between ideas. Yeah, it’s this kind of thing that makes life, education, and work much easier in the long term. Plus, you’ll actually have something to talk about on a date besides your cat.

Reading increases your chance of higher education, better employment, and higher pay. The more you are read to as a child, and the more you read over a lifetime, the better your overall chances of success in life. Information collected from the U.S. Census and the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) show a direct correlation between poor reading skills, incarceration, joblessness and need for public assistance. In other words, the higher your reading ability, the more likely that you will stay out of jail, have steady employment, and have the ability to support yourself. This research also shows reading is multi-generational. If you read more (with all of its benefits), your children will likely read more. That’ll come in handy when it comes to them choosing you a nursing home.

Reading is one of the most common ways to reduce stress. This does not necessarily work for everyone. Other people (like my mother) tend to take a more negative view of what she calls “escapism.” I prefer to think of it as “stress management.” Coming home from a stressful day of work, it’s a lot nicer to sit back and read about the adventures of Rachel Morgan, witch bounty hunter with her pixie backup, than it is to wonder if that rent check is going to bounce or if my car’s transmission is going to go out this week. Also the reduction in my doctor’s bills for stress-related high blood pressure is also nice.

What should I read to get all the benefits of reading?

Yeah, sorry, but reading Cosmopolitan and Maxim won’t maximize your benefits of reading. Not that you can’t read them; it just won’t help as much as reading other stuff. Reading should be challenging, if only very slightly. If there are no new words, new use of old words, complex sentence structures, or punctuation other than apostrophes, it probably isn’t very challenging. The topic, though, is up to you. Consider the following list of classic (read: standard) American novels to help you with all the benefits reading has to offer.

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding (probably our favorite book on the list)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison

Reading Resources

Google Books. If you have access to the Internet, you have access to books and literature. Books written before 1923 are out-of-copyright and are sometimes available for free. Google Books gives you access to millions upon millions of books. Many of these books are free, and many of these books are available at a price less than new hardcover prices at many bookstores.

Local Library. Like Google Books, if you have Internet, you can access a library, or you can go to the library for access to the Internet. Sign up for a library card and you will have access to all that the library has to offer, including free access to books, movies, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, digital databases, e-books, and more. On top of this, libraries often have many on-location programs to take advantage of.

E-readers. There is a vast variety of e-readers available. These aren’t just electronic books, though. E-readers such as the Nook and Kindle have text-to-speech capabilities, e-ink displays that don’t hurt your eyes and can be read in sunlight, wireless access, and storage space for thousands of books. All of this is included in a device that is lighter than most paperback books.