How long has it been since you sat down and read a book? Facebook posts, celebrity teen gossip articles and the back of your cereal box don’t count! Books, whether in eBook or print format, are an escape from reality. They provide adventure, evoke passion, and build relationships with characters all at the turn of a page. A 30 minute escape per day can even prevent years of therapy (keep reading for more on that)!
In the age of Google, Twitter and Wiki-answers, we think the answer to life’s questions should fit in a paragraph or 140 character limit, but reading books is a great way to continue the learning process. After all, according to Ingredients of Outliers author John Shufeldt, learning is a lifelong pursuit. There is a book out there for just about everything; chances are if you have a problem, there’s a book for it. Just got a job and have NO idea what you’re doing? Pick up the 7 habits of highly effective people, Lean In, or a specific how-to guide. If you’re preparing for the MCAT to apply for Medical School, and your medical expertise caps out at game of Operation you played when you were seven, pick up MCAT for Dummies (And look into a Pre Med program…please, all of our lives could be at stake here!). What you learn from a book can land you your dream job and even help you earn a promotion at work.
If you’re still hesitant and think books are just too time consuming, that’s not all, there are also several health benefits associated with reading. We’ve listed them here below for you (don’t forget to read all the way to the bottom for a major bonus):
Reading story lines requires the memorization of characters, attributes, plots, villains and solutions. Brain connections are created every time a new memory is formed which strengthens existing connections to better your overall memory. Memory is like any other skill, and “if you don’t use it, you might lose it”.
A great book can completely wipe your slate after a stressful day. Diving into the pages of a good novel or magazine article makes all of the stress from your personal life, work life, and daily grind slip away. Allowing yourself to focus entirely on something else can distract you and allow you to kick back and relax. Eliminating stress is essential to cancer prevention, anti-aging, good digestion, and many other health issues it effects.
Stronger Analytical Thinking
It’s natural for readers to try to solve the mysteries in novels before they finish the book. Using the details provided and constructing creative explanations and scenarios in the mind require using analytical thinking skills. Evaluating the quality of a book also engages critical thinking as readers assess the book’s detail, plotline, author’s writing style and linguistic choices to develop a final opinion.
Working out or performing physical activities is essential for keeping the body in shape, much like reading is an essential to keep the mind healthy and fit. Several studies have shown that stimulating the mind can slow or prevent several mental diseases including Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The research by the National Academy of Sciences, found that elderly people who regularly read or play mentally challenging games are 2 ½ times less likely to have the debilitating illness, which affects 4 million Americans.
“Don’t read to be big, read to be down to earth. Don’t read to be smart, read to be wise. Don’t read to memorize, read to realize. Don’t read to just learn, read to sometimes unlearn. Don’t read a lot, read just enough to keep yourself curious and hungry, to learn more, to keep getting younger as you grow older.” Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, (Chapter 9, Ingredients of Outliers)
I realize your mobile technology addiction is not going to completely dissipate after learning all of these benefits, but please try to practice some self- control. After all, you did read all of the way to the bottom of this article, and doesn’t it feel good? With all this new reading you’ll be doing, you’ll probably want to inspire your friends to join, or find new comrades to share in your new found hobby. You can Google reading clubs, or look on meetup.com. You can also Instagram your journey with the hashtags #ReadingChallenge, #10DayBookPictureChallenge, #instabooks, or #goodreads, and find out that there is actually a pretty vibrant virtual reading community.
Lastly, if you are going to do this reading challenge thing, follow @john_shufeldt on Instagram for the latest on our upcoming publications. Not only did you just find out a way to improve your mind and health, but you will most likely make new friends from this pursuit. Have fun, read on, and you’re welcome!