What’s a habit all the high achievers at school had in common? Nine times out of ten, they were the avid readers of the cohort. Why is that? Why have some of the world’s most successful people shown themselves to be prolific readers? What makes reading so beneficial?
In a world dominated by computers, smartphones, and iPads, finding the time and opportunity to read can seem as difficult as pulling a rabbit from a magician’s hat. A YouTube video, podcast or movie seems more within reach. But what if we told you that reading is key in taking one from novice to expert? Would you make time for that transition?
By reading, we don’t mean scrolling through social media, text messages or news headlines. We mean physical books! Fiction and non-fiction alike.
Why do we recommend a real paper book over e-reading?
Do you find it hard to focus when reading from a screen? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Research has found that reading on a screen and reading physical books use different parts of our brain. When we don’t make time to read a physical book, we hinder our capacity to “deep read”. This is the intentional act of engaging in reading to deepen comprehension.
In what follows, we’ll cover five reasons why deep reading is so important.
Greater command of language
Reading and writing are mutually informed by the other. When we read, we pick up on how writer’s express ideas. This allows us to readily apply techniques we read to our own written communication. Reading also helps us expand our vocabulary. Having an extensive vocabulary enacts a springboard for us to form and articulate ideas that are more complex and nuanced. The more we read, the greater our understanding.
Tip: Expose yourself to a diversity of books (including novels, biographies, self-help, scientific roundups, etc). This helps you acquire a wealth of knowledge because you’ve trained yourself to understand a broad range of material.
Optimal brain function
Studies show that our attention span has shortened from 12 to eight seconds over the past few decades. The prominence of digital technology has compromised our ability to focus. But reading can help counteract this. Reading teaches us to concentrate on ideas that are being conveyed through words written on a page. This strengthens our comprehension, critical thinking and visualisation skills. There’s also evidence to suggest that maintaining mental stimulation can lower one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Reading is one of the best forms of medicine for the brain.
More connected to the collective human psyche
Sometimes, we need a break. But instead of reaching for the remote or iPad, we encourage you to pick up a book. Have you ever felt so invested in a character’s journey that you can’t put the book you’re reading down? Losing yourself in an enthralling story with characters you’d love to meet in real life is a delightful experience. It entertains while exercising our intelligence and empathy. Reading about other people’s lives, real or imagined, helps us better understand people. In gifting us with a panoptic perspective, reading allows us to arrive at realisations before the protagonists. Training ourselves to be perceptive through reading is useful for our own interactions with people. We can identify patterns of human behaviour. Reading is a nourishing way to escape reality because it helps us make connections, inferences, and realisations – tools that help us find magic in adversity.
In providing insight into the human condition, reading also decreases our sense of isolation. Reading a book that speaks to our innermost aches and yearnings can be very healing. We feel less alone because we learn that other people have felt and lived through things we’ve experienced. This helps us feel more at peace with ourselves.
Learn from the best
An in-depth understanding is crucial for success. Yes, you can obtain some helpful information on a topic by watching video summaries on YouTube. But if you want to go from mediocre to master, reading can help you make the leap. Remember, it takes an expert to diligently unpack a concept in a thorough, well-reasoned manner.
Think of reading as a charger for our cognitive battery. Reading exposes us to new information, equipping us with a bank of material we can readily draw upon. Learning from the best helps us give our best. Read from experts to master expert results in any given field, activity, or practice.
Books are a voyage of learning. They help expand our consciousness so we can take steps to enrich our lives. If we want our lives to change, we need to be willing to take on information that challenges pre-existing ideas. Luckily, books let us learn at our own pace. It’s easy to re-read chapters and there’s no pressure to finish by a certain time (unless it’s for a reading club or university assignment). Unlike a lot of forms of entertainment, buying a book doesn’t require subscription renewals. Once you buy a book, you can enjoy it for life free of charge!
Reading helps us develop the skills we need for success. Make time for it, every day! You’ll thank yourself later.
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