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Andrea’s Book Nook: Four reasons why I read — and you should too!

By Andrea Silva Santisteban Fort, May 14, 2021—

In a world of social media, dopamine cycles and over stimulation, I find reading to be one of the best forms of entertainment there is. I find that finishing a good read leaves you with a different sensation than scrolling through Instagram or binging a series on Netflix. Reading can relax, entertain and even provide an escape from reality for a few hours. This hobby is attention consuming, however, I believe that there is no better investment of free time than reading a good book, which can potentially change your perspective or greatly impact your life. With that, here are four reasons you should read more.

  1. Reading is a beneficial practice for your brain 

Studies have been proven that reading not only helps boost your memory, but it also improves your focus. A study using brain scans showed that when individuals read as a constant practice, their brain connectivity increases, specifically in the somatosensory cortex. This is the section of the brain that responds to physical sensations — like movement and pain. Additionally, activities like reading have been positively correlated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Another benefit of reading that is related to cerebral health is that it improves your focus. Sitting down with a book takes long periods of focus — at least at first — which can be hard to manage. However, the more you practice, the greater your ability to concentrate will become. Before you know it, you will be able to read an entire book in one sitting in any environment. Being fully engaged in reading involves closing off the outside world, decreasing noise and immersing yourself into the book. over time, this will strengthen your attention span and memory capacity.

  1. Reading reduces stress and helps you relax

Reading is also considered to be a stress-reducing activity. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68 per cent. This activity may reduce stress and anxiety more than walking, listening to music or playing video games. When people read a really engrossing book it actively engages their imagination, which in turn distracts from daily stresses. I honestly believe there is nothing better than reading after a busy day. A lot of people reject the idea of reading for fun because they automatically associate it with the literary analysis they did — of a book they were not even interested in — in high school. They relate reading to something complex and boring. I feel like people sometimes forget that there are books on every subject and for every taste or preference possible. It is essential to find the right genre for you in order to enjoy what you are reading. For a long time, I used to associate this hobby with “classics” — which I didn’t like back then as I found them to be difficult and slow reads. Once I found the right genre and authors for me, I found reading an entertaining activity that I really enjoy. On the other hand, your tastes and preferences may change over time. Maybe that book you tried to read and were bored with two years ago is the perfect read for you at this point in your life. Keep an open mind and try to find what you like.

  1. The habit of reading expands your vocabulary and betters your comprehension

Researchers have found that students who read books regularly, especially the ones who incorporate this habit at a young age, gradually develop large and diverse vocabularies. Having an extended vocabulary is essential to communicating ideas. As a Peruvian student, whose first language is Spanish, one of the first things I did to prepare myself for studying in Canada was to start reading only in English. This helped me a lot in expanding my vocabulary and in reviewing grammar rules. I am getting a degree in political science, a major in which you have to read and write a lot. When I got into university, one of my biggest concerns was the possibility that I might not be able to adapt to the demands of studying in another language. I feared that I would not get good grades on my essays as I was not going to be able to write as effectively as I do in Spanish. Reading in English for months before I started classes helped me increase my reading speed and to become more familiar and confident with the language.

  1. Reading provides an opportunity to learn something new 

Finally, one of the greatest benefits of reading is that you always learn something new. You do not have to read a science, politics or economics book to acquire new information. With a fiction book, you can learn to empathize with others and their experiences. With historical fiction, you learn valuable information about the context the story is set in. With an autobiographical book, the author usually gives you advice or practical life lessons. This habit allows for an opportunity to learn from the experiences and knowledge of others. You never know when the information you are reading will come in handy. Any topic can come up in class, in a conversation with a professor or even in a job interview. Reading is a tool you can use to become an educated and well-informed individual.

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