If knowledge is power, and books are readily available to the vast majority of us; why do we read so little? In my humble opinion, our negative (and lazy) attitude towards reading – and I’m generalising on a national scale – can be considered a significant reason that we lag on the development index. Many lack access to books and libraries – sitting on the Board of
READ International, I know firsthand the great work being done by the team to spread the joy of reading by building libraries in local schools across Tanzania. However, providing access to books only solves half the problem; our attitude towards reading constitutes the other. There are countless benefits to reading more which I will duly list shortly; yet the most powerful component remains our attitude which in turn affects reading behaviour.
As a teen, I used to be envious of bookworms – their nose firmly lodged in a book – this certainly wasn’t me. If anything, reading used to feel like a punishment when our English Lit teacher would give us the list of books we were required to read each term. Both parents used to urge my siblings and I to read more; we were coerced, cajoled and even forced (where necessary) but in honesty, we still read the bare minimum.
It all comes full circle; I understand their apprehension when dealing with my 9-year-old son – seems I haven’t produced a bookworm either – as frustrating as it feels for the parent, I completely understand his perspective. Want to know one crucial habit of ultrasuccessful people have in common? They read a lot. Warren Buffet was once asked about the key to success; he allegedly pointed to a stack of nearby books. Here’s how reading more can transform our lives for the better (mine included!)
Boost Knowledge – The purpose of reading is to connect the ideas on the page to what you already know. If you don’t know anything about a subject, then pouring words of text into your mind is like pouring water into your hand. There are no limits to what you can explore through books. Those that read have higher GPA’s, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than those that don’t.
Mental Stimulation – Just like going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a good work out.
The brain-stimulating activities from reading have even shown to slow down cognitive decline in old age with people.
Stress Reduction – Reading is the best way to relax and according to new research, as little as six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds.
Improved Critical Thinking - Through reading, you expose yourself to new ideas, information, and alternative ways of solving problems. Reading also increases the understanding of the rules of life, impelling you to adapt, adopt and accommodate into society better.
Gain Experience from others – There is a mountain of gems for you to discover in books, which contain people’s successes, failures and advice. Life is too short for you to keep repeating the mistakes that have been done by others in the past – gain counsel and potentially dodge bullets!
Boost Imagination & Creativity - Reading exposes you to a world of imagination, showing you nothing is impossible in this world. The process of reading can be likened to a vast spider web; linking current and new knowledge that in turn allows you to find new solutions to your challenges.
Better Writing Skills - There are two things that writers recommend to others who want to improve: more writing, and reading. More writing is an obvious one, since practice makes perfect yet writing in a vacuum won’t do us much good. Reading exposes us to other styles, voices, forms and genres of writing.
Self-Improvement – Through reading, you create a structured path towards an enhanced understanding of self and the ability to make better decisions when faced with all life has to offer. Let’s all set a personal reading target (and stick to it!) – if not for the reasons above, then just simply we can’t afford not to keep growing. Mental stagnation is a silent killer…