While some of us naturally enjoy reading for the pleasure it gives us, not everyone is a bibliophile. The way Indian schools teach Literature (or any other subject for that matter) ensures that the student’s enthusiasm for it, rather than being aroused, is crushed completely under the heavy load of homework and a singular obsession with securing good marks. Instead of being encouraged to appreciate the beauty of Shakespeare’s verse, students are rigorously instructed to tailor the content and length of their answers with the aim of acquiring maximum marks in exams, effectively obliterating any scope of alternative readings of the text or the student’s own interpretation. It is no surprise then that for them reading and pleasure become mutually exclusive categories and many of them get repulsed by the thought of picking up a book even later into their adult lives.
Furthermore, with the onslaught of social networking websites, the problem of not reading has only exacerbated. With steadily declining attention spans, the maximum reading we seem to be capable of doing these days is status updates of Facebook friends or that 140 character tweet of whatever celebrity we follow.
However, the relevance of reading still holds today and it is a highly enriching habit which everyone, no matter the age, should consciously aim to cultivate. In fact, everyone should make becoming well read a lifelong aim. Why, you ask? Well, here are 10 reasons which I’m sure will convince you…
10. Increased Vocabulary
Are you someone who is constantly frustrated at being unable to find the right words to express yourself? Have you ever felt embarrassed/inferior/ annoyed when talking to someone who keeps throwing these lengthy, intimidating words whose meanings you don’t know but are too proud/ashamed to ask? If yes, then you are someone for whom reading is guaranteed to be beneficial. The most obvious advantage which reading equips a person with is a formidable vocabulary. The more you read, the less would you be fumbling for words when you need them.
Needless to say, with increased vocabulary comes increased articulacy. The ability to speak well is something whose importance most of us acknowledge but often underestimate. Language can be an extremely powerful tool to positively influence the people around you in your favour. The same thought when uttered by a person who constantly interrupts his/her words with needless fillers such as “umms” and “ahhs”, constantly thinking of what to say next as opposed to someone who speaks confidently and effortlessly, impacts people differently. Reading on a regular basis will make you more articulate since without you even realizing it, your brain picks up expressions and words that you come across while reading and will employ those very same words and expressions when you speak.
8. Mental stimulation
Yes, you’ve heard it a million times before but this commonplace saying really is true – as the body requires exercise to stay fit, so does the mind. It has been scientifically established that a person who reads regularly not only improves his cognitive abilities but also protects himself against mental ailments which might afflict him/her in life’s later years such as Alzheimer’s.
7. Enhanced imagination and creativity
There is nothing quite like the feeling of losing yourself in the pages of a novel, your brain transported in another world- a bygone era with an old world charm or some fantasy land inhabited by dragons and sorcerers or perhaps the suspense filled, treacherous world of a thriller. Whatever be your taste, there is a plethora of books to satiate it. A writer of skill knows how to make our brain translate his words into vivid images, making us create entire worlds in our head and thus greatly enriching our imagination. In the words of George R.R Martin, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . The man who never reads lives only one.”
6. Developed wit
You are having the argument of your life and your adversary hits you with a particularly acerbic insult. You think of a comeback so awesome it’ll teach him well never to mess with you again.
Only it doesn’t. Reason?
Because that perfect comeback comes to your mind 5 hours later!
The ability to make sharp, quick retorts or in other words – wit, employs a vast array of linguistic weapons such as puns, sarcasm, analogy, metaphor etc and reading widely will help you wield these weapons with dexterity. Having a razor sharp wit also requires the ability to think originally and creatively. Since reading develops both language and imagination, it is a great way to develop a mind which can think cleverly and swiftly so that the next time you have a battle of wits, you’re not fighting unarmed!
5. Improved concentration
Everyone seems to have become a multitasker these days. We study while listening to music, we constantly have more tabs open in our browser than we can handle, we watch TV while we eat, we whatsapp our friends while playing Subway Surfer while surfing Facebook. The ability to concentrate on one task at a time seems to be dying a steady death. However, it is important that you preserve this endangered but extremely useful quality and that’s where reading comes to the rescue. Reading daily improves your ability to focus which will in turn help you be more productive and efficient in other spheres of life as well.
4. Analytical abilities
People who read widely and extensively are more likely to have better analytically thinking abilities than those who do not. In depth reading of a novel will uncover many hidden meanings which might not be so apparent on a superficial first reading. Furthermore, reading exposes you to multiple perspectives which will help you analyze a situation in multifarious ways.
3. Knowledge and Intelligence
That reading will make you more knowledgeable and intelligent is really a no-brainer. You might not have appreciated the importance of knowledge as a child and might have cooked up n number of excuses just to wriggle your way out of studying but as you grow up you begin to realize how important it is to be informed about the world. Pursuing knowledge for knowledge’s sake is in itself a goal worth pursuing but if you need additional incentive to read, remember that intelligence is sexy! Having an erudite appeal has a charm of its own and can be an extremely attractive quality to have when it comes to attracting the opposite sex. However, remember that enhanced sexual appeal is only a bonus of being well read and don’t make getting laid the ultimate goal of reading itself!
2. Window to the world
When you read you become aware of other cultures, peoples, nations, ideologies and what not. You realize how amazingly diverse the world is and how less you truly know about it. Reading is like travelling but better because it lets you traverse the globe without moving an inch from your cozy, comfy bed wrapped in a warm blanket and sipping on hot chocolate!
1. Personal enrichment
‘The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.’
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of reading is personal enrichment. Learning is not simply something which ends with the completion of your formal education but a lifelong process. When you read you ensure that your mind doesn’t atrophy. The different worldviews you come across while reading will not only lead to greater acceptance of other peoples’ viewpoints but also make you reconsider your own perspective. The more you read, the more you will begin to question your own beliefs as a consequence of which your opinions and convictions will evolve. Personal growth is important to have a fulfilling life and reading is one of the best ways to achieve it.