Last Updated on February 1, 2023
It’s no secret that reading is highly beneficial, but when was the last time you actually sat down and read something? (No, your best friend’s long caption on Instagram doesn’t count, nor does that 10-picture compilation post of memes.)
With social media and digital channels slowly taking over our lives, reading is becoming more and more of a lost art. In all honesty, it’s easy to see why—with our attention spans only decreasing (we’re at an unbelievable 8.25-second average, FYI), reading a 350-page tome is going to challenge both patience and concentration.
Also, why even go through all that effort in the first place when you can simply listen to the audiobook, watch the summary on YouTube, or just catch Hollywood’s version of the book?
Because none of these can exercise your mind, challenge you to fill the gaps in your knowledge, improve your memory, reduce stress, or expand your vocabulary quite like books can.
If you need a push to start reading regularly or revive an old reading habit, here’s a deep dive into the importance of reading in life.
10 Benefits of Reading
Regardless of your age, reading opens up a world of possibilities and advantages. Here are ten of the best benefits of reading, which underscores the importance of reading in life for all of us.
#1 Exercises Your Mind
As Joseph Addison famously said (you’d know who he was if you read more—just saying!), reading does for your mind what exercising does for your body.
Just as working out often will whip your muscles into shape and increase their strength, reading will do the same for your brain by activating different areas, from comprehension to memory stimulation to imagination to analytical abilities.
Studies show that reading is a neurobiological process that gives your brain muscles a good workout by stimulating the complex signals and circuits and kicking them into action. The more you read, the more sophisticated and strong these circuits and signals become.
Additionally, the connectivity between different parts of the brain improves while reading, and this benefit remains active for days after. Our analytical skills and critical thinking skills get a workout, and that’s a good thing!
Ultimately, all that reading will help slow down the rate at which your memory fades, while also slowing down cognitive decline by reducing beta-amyloid levels (one of the chief culprits behind Alzheimer’s).
#2 Broadens Your Horizons
Reading can broaden your horizons as little else can. Through books, you get a front door key to different places, cultures, concepts, ideologies, and more, bridging the gap between the rest of the world and you.
The words can also stimulate your imagination, opening up new worlds inspired by the author’s words.
Reading also equips you with many skills, such as improved communication, critical, and analytical skills, better comprehension, and advanced vocabulary, which can build confidence, help you socialize, and open up many new avenues personally and professionally.
#3 Reduces Stress
78% of people who feel stress find that it affects their physical health and 73% report that it affects their mental health. Stress is everywhere—given our lifestyles, it’s only natural that we feel stress, but it isn’t meant to be chronic in any world or scenario.
Reading induces relaxation, which means that it can effectively combat stress. Disconnecting from the world and diving into a book, where you’re focusing only on one task, can bring about a meditative state—do it enough and it’s “bye, bye, stress!”
#4 Improves Your Memory
Almost every book has a story, or even if not, every part is connected to the other. To make any sense of your book, you’re going to have to remember characters, their histories, sub-plots, concepts, and so much more.
As your brain commits all this to memory, your memory power improves. You’re also going to be creating new memories, which, in turn, will strengthen existing neural pathways and create new ones.
Non-fiction or fiction, you’re going to be feeding your brain a ton of information, especially if it’s a well-written piece of work.
Additionally, as we’ve already discussed, reading can bring down stress, which further reduces any stress-driven memory loss (yep, that’s a thing).
So, a book a day can keep away those memory lapses!
#5 Expands Your Vocabulary
There are a whopping 171,476 words that are currently being used—and that’s just in the English language alone.
While it’s nearly impossible to know all of these, you can learn a sizable, impressive amount just by reading. New phrases, words, and the way they’re used will expand your vocabulary, whether you’re still in school or are a seasoned 60-year-old.
#6 Strengthens Writing Skills
Reading well-written work will improve your writing skills and not just if you’re aspiring to be the next Austen or Eliot.
Good writing skills are important in daily life too—your words are often your best tool and weapon, whether you’re simply writing a letter or need to turn in a research paper or write a killer cover letter. Especially in the professional and academic worlds, your written word precedes your spoken word (for example, cover letters before an interview) and gives the first impression of you, so you really need to be putting your best foot forward with written works like these. Good writing skills are going to help you accurately express what you think, feel, and believe.
Better writing skills are also a highly sought-after soft skill by many employers as they’re an indication of good communication skills and a honed writing style.
If nothing else, a well-written Insta caption is definitely going to draw more likes!
#7 Strengthens Your Focus
The world has never been as filled with distraction as it is today, with a million different things begging your attention every second. The average person is juggling emails, social media, conversations, and colleagues, in addition to trying to finish the main task at hand. Phew!
All that a book demands from you is that you focus on all that it has to offer, which you can do by simply performing one task—reading.
Even just 15-20 minutes of reading a day can vastly improve your concentration levels, leading to better productivity in your personal and professional lives.
#8 Broadens Your Imagination
We said it already, but we’ll say it again—reading stimulates the imagination.
When reading, you’re transported to new worlds that you’re building with nothing else but your mind and its imaginative capabilities, unlocking new ideas and thought processes.
Not only does painting all these pictures help you become more creative and mentally travel wherever you want to but it also helps you find new ways of problem solving.
#9 Avenue for Learning
New words, writing styles, concepts, cultures, histories—there are so many new things that books expose you to. All of this leads to new learning, and the more you read, the more avenues for learning you’ll find.
Unlike podcasts and YouTube videos, books dive deep into the topic they’re talking about because they’re usually written about subject matter experts who’ve devoted their lives to the topic at hand, and not merely those who count the subject as one of their many interests.
Additionally, there are so many books covering every possible topic (Stopping procrastination? Surviving a garden gnome attack? Or fashionable cats, perhaps? We kid you not.)
So if you want to learn about something in particular, picking up a book on the topic is an excellent way to educate yourself.
#10 Free Entertainment
Ever seen people hooked to their books by the pool, on the beach, while eating, and even on the treadmill?
If you’ve ever encountered a book that you simply can’t put down, you get it.
Reading a book can keep you entertained for hours (or as long as it takes you to finish said book), whatever your pick is—non-fiction, self-help, fantasy, romance, fantasy romance!
Books are also quite cheap, especially if you’re around a library or have subscribed to an ebook service.
Final Thoughts: Importance of Reading in Life
As you can see, reading has so many benefits and ones that most of us can use, truth be told. Just pulling out 15 minutes from your schedule, whether it’s on the subway, on your lunch break, or just before falling asleep, good reading habits can work wonders in many aspects.