What is the Value of Reading for Pleasure?

reading for pleasure

Reading Time: 7 minutes

What is the value of reading for pleasure in a world where electronic communications rule supreme? Too many people have been drawn into the rabbit-hole of social media. Many people don’t know the numerous benefits of reading books for pleasure every day. It is brain food.

Reading for Pleasure Stimulates the Brain

Reading for pleasure is an excellent way of stimulating your brain activity and helping it to retain its power and capacity. Studies have shown that reading books daily slows down the onset of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It also improves your working memory.

Every part of our body requires exercise to retain our health. Reading improves cognitive development and improves your feeling of wellbeing. Even playing games like chess, doing a crossword or jigsaw results in cognitive stimulation. Also, remember, the female brain is truly amazing.

Develops Curiosity

In reading a book for pleasure you encounter a plethora of characters, fact or fiction. Developing the reader’s curiosity is the writer’s aim, starting with the blurb on the book cover. Just watch someone choosing a book, in a shop, or in a library. What sparks the reader’s curiosity and encourages them to read the whole book, or causes them to put it aside? 

Often, I will read something then race to ask Google for more information. That extra knowledge then gives me a deeper understanding of the character, or subject I was reading about. Reading should never be a ‘dead end’ to itself, but the gateway to seeking other information. A five-or-six-minute read, like the articles we write, should be only an appetizer. Like the 30-day tours around Europe are designed to get the tourist hungry for more.

Increases Knowledge

Reading regularly for pleasure is a great way to gain knowledge. Yes, you can ask Google and get a myriad of answers, but you don’t personally relate to that information. For knowledge to have its full value, it must be coupled with experience and book reading should be an ‘experience’ as you disappear into a different world. A book should make you laugh, or cry, or experience disgust or empathy with the characters.

Just as you need healthy variety in what you eat, you need to be widely read. As time goes on, you will grow and develop mentally, as pieces of information build on other information you already have. Knowledge that can never be taken away from you, even though it may lurk in your subconscious mind, until something sparks it off and it bubbles to the surface again. You have a far greater capacity to retain information than you give yourself credit for, so keep reading.

Regular Book Reading for Pleasure Lowers Stress Levels

Reading for pleasure is an effective way to manage stress, as it stimulates relaxation. Our days are full of things that bother us, so it is important to have some time when the brain is diverted and allowed to think on something that is less stressful and more interesting.

How often do we fall asleep, only to wake in the middle of the night with all sorts of problems running wild in our head? Sleep becomes evasive and the night seems endless. Don’t lie there stewing about all the “Could be…. What if……..Maybe…..”. Sit up and read a book for half an hour. It will soothe the troubled mind as it diverts your brain and allows your body to settle down again. Sleep will be easily wooed back into your world, and discourage insomnia.

Depression Reducer

We all have times when life itself seems to overwhelm us. There is no way out and no answers to the challenges life throws at us. At that point it is all too easy to entertain the Black Dog of depression and helplessness. Every day we are faced with choices, and it is important to be in a place where we can make good choices, as they will affect all our tomorrows. 

Make reading a good book for around 30-minutes a daily habit. It won’t change your circumstances but reading takes you into someone else’s world. It creates a diversion from your problems, even if it is only temporary. It relaxes the brain and gives it a chance to recharge. There are also numerous books available that are inspirational and will help lift you from the threatening melancholy.

Reading for Pleasure Exercises your Imagination

Reading a well-written book for leisure exercises your imagination. It takes you into an entirely different world and gives you insights into how others think and react, either in fiction or historically.

One of my favourite places growing up, was the local library. I loved the smell, the feeling of anticipation of the unknown universes waiting to be discovered. There was hardly a night went by when I didn’t hear, “Put that light out!”

A library is a whole universe untraveled. It would be a prison sentence for me if I didn’t have books around me and I know Joni, co-author of Whispering Encouragement, feels the same way. 

Ability to Concentrate Increased

Reading for pleasure every day even if only for 20 to 30 minutes, results in an increase in your ability to focus and concentrate. How many go to a gym to produce a healthy body? Book reading is a healthy way to ensure the health of your brain, yet modern technology has turned a large portion of the population into lazy beings, with everything ‘instant’. Many people have lost the art of concentration. Slumping down in front of a television screen is hardly conducive to creativity.

While reading, you are forced to remember the names and nature of the various characters. Though, I must add, occasionally you read a book that causes you to lose track of who is who and may leave you feeling frustrated. However, accept this as a challenge, even if you need a notepad beside you, to keep track of the characters.

A daily reading regime for pleasure develops your brain super-power. With every new piece of information or memory, your brain creates new brain pathways or synapses. It truly is a case of use it, or lose it. If the elderly people sitting in nursing homes, spending all their time bemoaning the fact they have ended up there, would only realize the true value of reading a book. Their memory would be strengthened if they would take up book reading, as a steady book-reading regime helps recall short-term memory and stabilizes the mood.

A Daily Reading Regime Improves Analytical Skills

Another great benefit of a daily reading regime is that it vastly improves your analytical skills. How do you discern between true and false information? Reading regularly helps you discard the ‘bones’ of false information and confirms true information as you cross reference.

The brain is subconsciously trained to think more smartly and develop analytical skills. Consider a young child trying to take its first steps. The problems facing that child seem insurmountable, but with encouragement and tenacity, the child will discover how to walk.

Regularly reading for pleasure aids you in problem-solving as you become involved in the problems your character is facing. From the cradle to the grave, our brain is engaged in problem solving and analyzing our day-to-day situation.

Reading for Pleasure Increases Your Empathy

Reading for pleasure increases your empathy and improves your relationship with others as you gain a better understanding of other people’s situation. Your empathy increases as you weep or laugh with the leading character/s and there is no embarrassment in shedding a tear of empathy as you follow the plot. Tears are a result of strong emotions, and as an author, I aim to create strong emotions in my readers. To make reading an experience.

Reading helps you understand what others go through. You don’t have to experience grief situations personally, as seen in collective grief, but it can help you understand other people’s situation. The pain of grief can be alleviated through a book reading regime and inspire you to forgiveness.

Literary Skills

Even when you only get the meaning of a word from the sentence it is placed in, you are gaining in your vocabulary. Studies have shown that regular readers, including children, improve their vocabulary to an impressive extent and makes them smarter. The more you read, the better you will write, be it a book, or just an email.

There is so much to be gained in self-confidence. There is nothing worse than feeling inadequate in a group of your peers, when you simply don’t have the knowledge to express yourself. A healthy reading regime will vastly improve your self-confidence and the ability to express your opinion among others and give yousomething interesting to contribute to a conversation.

We must not forget the value of oral books in our day and age of electronic communication. There is no easier way to enjoy a journey than to turn on an oral book. The journey always seems shorter, yet it does not detract from your driving expertise. The brain retains its responsiveness, rather than being dulled by the tediousness of the odometer ticking over. 

Children find an oral book a wonder on a long journey. No more, “Are we there yet?” Often, there are cries of dismay when you arrive at your destination as you reach an especially exciting part of the story.

Immense Treasures Waiting to be Discovered

Good authors produce their best work on the shoulders of other great writers, who stimulate other authors into searching out new ideas. There are untold treasures to be discovered between the covers of a book.

If we only read comic books, we limit our world. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words can say so much more. Watching a movie is entertaining, but there is so much more depth if you read the same story in the written form.

Read for Entertainment and Relaxation

I’m not talking about becoming a book worm, but someone who is not afraid to expand your knowledge horizon. However, don’t be so limited in your reading, that you become a bore. There is an entire world out there to explore. Perhaps COVID did us a favour in making us look closer to home to find enjoyment and entertainment.

If you find a book is starting to bore you, don’t be ashamed to skim read until the storyline grips you once more. Of course, certain genres will interest you more than others, but remember to make your daily reading regime a time of enjoyment. Each of us have our favourite subjects and enjoy the voice of our favourite author/s.

We cover a wide variety of topics at Whispering Encouragement, but our theme remains the same always. Encourage women to feel appreciated, to reach out and dream and have the courage to follow that dream, or know that their life is a success, no matter what others think. Enjoy reading.

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    Wendy is an Inspirational Freelance Writer specializing in offering encouragement to women in all walks of life.

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