Most people seem to feel like they need to be reading more, but they might not really know why. There are plenty of good reasons to read, so start by reading this list and get inspired to add some books to your reading list.
Reading for Smarts
1. Reading gives you a bigger vocabulary. That seems pretty obvious, but it’s grounded in scientific fact. People who read have larger vocabularies than people who don’t, and tend to have better verbal skills as well.
2. You’ll write better. Absorbing all those words and how they’re put together makes it easier for you to put words together in a pleasing way, too. Which may be why reading more is common advice for people who want to be writers.
3. It’s a great way to learn. Whether you want to learn to cook a soufflé, understand a Civil War battle or take apart the engine of a ’65 Mustang, you can learn from a book.
4. Reading improves your analytical thinking skills. Deciphering the meaning of literary allusions, plot twists or even non-fiction makes you a better thinker.
5. It’s good for your brain. Reading requires concentration, focus on narrative and use of the imagination, all of which give the brain a workout and can help keep it young. Reading regularly can improve your memory, help forge new synapses and may help prevent Alzheimer’s.
6. Reading can help you achieve your goals, not just through learning, but by inspiring you. If you read stories about business success or people who have lived their dreams, you’ll be more inspired to reach for you own goals.
Reading for Understanding
7. It teaches you to be human. Great works of literature and poetry open you to experiences and feelings you haven’t had, and research shows that may make you more empathetic toward other people.
8. It shows you other worlds. Whether those are literal or figurative doesn’t really matter; books take you places you could never go in your own life, which broadens your horizons in its own way.
9. It helps you see other people’s perspectives. A good book is the closest we can get to being in another person’s skin, and it can help us understand the real people in our lives a little better.
10. Reading can give you a new perspective. Here I’m not just talking about getting to peer into different worlds, but the fact that reading about life situations similar to your own may give you a different perspective on things. Whether you need help navigating a breakup or dealing with your parents, there’s a book for that.
Life Benefits of Reading
11. Reading is sexy. A study at Northwestern found that women rated intelligence as one of the most important features in a person they might have a relationship with, regardless of whether they were thinking short-term fling or life partner.
12. It’s a mood booster. People who read regularly report lower stress levels than those who do not. It’s a great way to take a break from your worries and immerse yourself in another world, if only temporarily.
13. It makes you a more engaged person. Research from the National Endowment for the Arts found that people who read regularly are also more likely to vote and be engaged in their communities than people who don’t.
14. It feels good. It’s fun to escape into different worlds, to take a break from your own life and wind down after a hard day.
15. It can make you more creative. Reading a lot of stories can make it easier for you to come up with your own (see number 2), but it also seems to boost creativity in other non-verbal areas of life, too.
16. Reading an engrossing book on the treadmill may keep you at your workout longer. Just make sure to perch the book on the holder rather than trying to hold it while you exercise.
17. It builds self-esteem. If you feel smart and like you should be valued for your knowledge, it will make you more confident.
18. It gives you something to talk about. And if you’re trying to hook someone who thinks smart is sexy, talking about the last book you read will score you more points than talking about the latest episode of Big Brother.
19. Moral superiority. It’s probably not in any way true, but being a reader makes you feel like a better person compared to non-readers.
20. Reading is really cheap entertainment. If you go to the library, reading costs you nothing. Even if you buy books or e-books, it’s still cheaper to entertain yourself for a month than a cable subscription would be.