Why You Should be Reading

wbReading a book

By Dave Hood

Many people never read anything and prefer to spend their leisure time watching reality television, soap operas, reruns. There’s nothing wrong with watching television. However, I have discovered that reading is a far better way of enriching your life. I couldn’t image a life without being able to read a book, the newspaper, a magazine , or useful content on a Website or blog with my tablet.

Every morning, I peruse the paper to discover what is making news, who won the hockey game, or what opinion a favorite columnist has about some issue, public figure, new film. I’ll never forget many poems, like “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, which continually provides sage advice. I will always recall the details of many short stories I’ve read before turning out the light, falling asleep—like “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, a short story that is not only a work of art, but also a model for aspiring writers who dream of writing fiction. If you’re not a passionate reader, you should add reading to your daily schedule. There are many reasons why you ought to be reading. Here are a few:

Reading is one of life’s simple pleasures. It is an easy way for you escape the routines and stresses of daily life into some new world of fantasy, science fiction, or other reality. I feel pleasure when reading a piece by some talented writer who can create music with words by using alliteration, assonance, or rhyme. I delight in being entertained by a writer who can transform the ordinary into something fascinating by using personification, imagery, metaphor, or simile. I enjoy reading stories that end with an epiphany or essays that share some truth about the human condition.

Reading is a simple way to entertain yourself. There are so many works of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction that will make you laugh, cry, feel suspense, express an epiphany. Often reading a book is better than watching a film or television show. I’ve laughed while reading books, such as  “Portney’s Complaint” by Philip Roth,  felt the drama while reading  Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic world in “The Road,” experienced sadness while reading Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Night.”

Reading forces you to slow down, sit down, relax, and focus. And so, reading is a very good way to de-stress and unwind. I’ll often sit on the sofa, listening to some relaxing jazz, sipping hot coffee, reading a magazine or newspaper.

Reading prevents boredom. If you have nothing to do, read something. There are countless things to read, especially if you have one or more interests or passions. I’m never bored, because I always have something interesting to read.

Reading is one of the best methods of learning. You can become an expert on most subjects by reading on your own. For instance, I enrolled in a digital photography program a couple of years ago and then completed five courses. But I found the course content very basic, so I purchased a few photography books on what I desired to learn. While reading these books, I realized that I could learn more on my own for a fraction of the cost rather than taking some basic courses.

Reading fills your mind with interesting stories, facts, and information, which you can use in conversation. Most fascinating people are interesting because they’re well read. Though I don’t consider myself a fascinating person, I do enjoy discussing what’s making news, issues of importance, views on film, and so on. I don’t enjoy small talk, and so if a conversation evolves into this theme, I try to refocus it on some topic I’ve read about.

Reading will boost your confidence. By reading, you glean knowledge,and this knowledge will increase your confidence. Instead of having to sit and look perplexed or feel intimidated when someone discusses something in the news or of mutual interest, you’ll be familiar with the topic or issue your friends, classmates, co-workers are discussing. All of the deep thinkers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Christopher Hitchens, Ernest Hemingway, were passionate readers.

Those who read are much better writers than those who don’t. Furthermore, if you desire to become a writer, you must not only write but also read. Reading will build your vocabulary, providing you look up the meaning of unfamiliar words in a dictionary. Reading will also provide you with examples of the best writing. If you pay attention and analyze the writer’s style, you will learn how to write different types of sentences, such as a simple or complex sentence; how to write different types of paragraphs; how to create simile, metaphor, personification, imagery, and much more.

Reading will enlighten you. It will teach you new perspectives, new modes of thinking, new points of view, new ways of seeing. Reading is like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Those who don’t read look at the cave wall and see just a shadow. Those who read use their imagination, sharpen their memory, expand their vocabulary, use better mental models, apply their new modes of thinking, experience deeper meaning from their surroundings. A shadow becomes a symbol of something else, such as a ghost from the past or the supernatural seeking your attention. Read has defined my values, clarified my beliefs, and made me more tolerant of differences.

Reading will improve your memory. When you are able to concentrate, you will be able to improve your memory. In fact, for older people, reading is one of the best ways to give your brain a workout. This mental exercise can help prevent dementia, as well as sharpen your cognitive skills. Reading requires you to actively use your mind, such as imagination, thinking, and memory. An easy way to give your brain a workout is to complete the crossword puzzle or sudoku in the newspaper every day.

It’s unfortunate that far too many people have forgotten the pleasure and other benefits of reading.

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About Dave Hood

Lover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
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