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10 Benefits of Reading Books & 5 Ways to Increase Your Reading Habits


A lady reading a book on a couch

In a world where busyness consumes us, it can be hard finding the time to read or even acknowledge the benefits reading contributes to our mental health. In case you needed a reminder of how important regular reading is for our wellbeing and literacy, listed below are 10 benefits:


1. Reading exercises the brain

While reading, we have to remember different characters and settings that belong to a given story. Even if you enjoy reading a book in one sitting, you have to remember the details throughout the time you take to read the book. Therefore, reading is a workout for your brain that improves memory function.


2. Reading is an affordable form of entertainment

Did you know that most of the popular TV shows and movies are based on books? So why not indulge in the original form of entertainment by immersing yourself in reading. Most importantly books are relatively affordable and can be free if borrowed from your local library.


3. Reading Improves concentration and the ability to focus

We can all agree that reading cannot happen without focus in order to fully understand the story, we have to concentrate on each page. Gadgets are only getting faster and shortening our attention span, we need to intentionally slow down our processes. Reading is one of the few activities that requires your undivided attention, therefore, improving your ability to concentrate.


4. Reading improves literacy

Have you ever read a book where you came across an unfamiliar word? Books have the power to improve your vocabulary by introducing you to a new command of language. The more you read, the more your vocabulary grows, along with your ability to effectively communicate. Additionally, reading improves writing skills by helping the reader understand and learn different writing styles.


5. Reading improves sleep

By creating a bedtime routine that includes reading, you can signal to your body that it is time to sleep. Now, more than ever, we rely on increased screen time to get through the day. Therefore, by setting your phone aside and picking up a book, you are telling your brain that it is time to quiet down. Moreover, since reading helps to de-stress, doing so right before bed helps calm your mind and anxiety, improving the quality of sleep.



A man sleeping on white sheets


6. Reading increases general knowledge

Books are always filled with fun and interesting facts. Whether you read fiction or non-fictions, books can provide us with information we would’ve otherwise not known. Reading a variety of topics can make you a more knowledgeable person, in turn improving your conversation skills.


7. Reading is motivational

By reading books about protagonists who have overcome challenges, we are oftentimes encouraged to do the same. The right book can motivate you to never give up and stay positive, regardless of whether it’s a romance novel or a self-help book.


8. Reading reduces stress

Reading has the power to transport you to another world and away from the monotonous daily routine. By doing so, reading can decrease stress, lower heart rate, and reduce blood pressure.


9. Reading teaches empathy

Books allow us to experience realities outside of our lives. They teach us to relate to others by often putting us in the shoes of the narrator. This simple technique is called empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Reading builds on empathy by constantly presenting us with thoughts and scenarios outside of our perspective.


10. Helps prevent age-related cognitive decline

The National Institute on Aging recommends reading books and magazines as a way of keeping your mind engaged as you grow older. Although research hasn’t proven conclusively that reading books prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s, studies show that seniors who read and solve math problems everyday maintain and improve their cognitive functioning.



An elderly lady outdoors reading from an electronic tablet


Now that you’re aware of the benefits reading has, you’re probably wondering how to increase your reading habits. Not to fret, below are 5 ways you can include reading :


1. Surround yourself with readers

If you have friends who read, talk to them more often, especially about books they read. If not, try to make new friends who read or follow books clubs such as Shelf Interest Book Club, and be part of a reading community.


2. Keep a book on your table or next to your bed

Figure out one spot in your environment which you often look at. It could be your table or your nightstand, or the couch in your living room. Keep a book in that spot so that you see it often. It will increase the chances of you picking it up.


2. Read on your commute to and from work

Incorporating reading into your daily activities such as your commute to work is a great way to increase reading every day. Services aren’t usually the best on trains, so why not switch the use of phones for a nice read? You’d be surprised how a good book will make your commute seem shorter.


3. Read what is useful for you

Another option is to focus on reading books that have an immediate impact on your life. Everyone is facing problems and challenges throughout life. If a book can help you solve those problems or enable you to achieve your goals, you’ll naturally be more inclined to read it.



Cover of "Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person" book by Shonda Rhimes


4. Create a reading list

It’s important to keep track of the books, magazines, and blogs that incite our interest so that, when our current book is done, we know what to move on to. Goodreads.com is a good place to keep track of this; however, even a page in a personal journal is a good spot to keep track of what we hope to read in the future.


5. Figure out why you’re doing it

Identifying and clarifying the why of your reading habit is essential because the key to sustaining any habit in the very long-term is to make it a part of your identity. Ultimately, a painter doesn’t paint because of some clever set of techniques they’ve duct-taped together; they paint because they’re a painter. It’s just who they are. To craft a sustainable reading habit, it requires that you become a reader. That you identify not just as someone who reads occasionally but as someone for whom reading is an essential part of their being.

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