The Life-Changing Effects of Reading
Please welcome guest blogger Lena Paul, sharing insight on the benefits of reading.
Avid readers know the feeling: reading the last word of a book, slowly closing the cover, and being changed. Great books change a person, whether it is in how they view the world or how they feel about themselves. Reading can be life-altering.
Literacy itself is life-changing. It seems obvious that illiteracy makes functioning in the world difficult, but think about what illiteracy means. How does a person read a job application, a menu, a map? How would they Google something? Illiteracy severely limits what people are able to accomplish on their own. Literacy empowers people to take control of their lives in ways that were not previously possible.
Reading to Learn
Reading helps improve writing and other communication skills. Reading a lot illuminates what constitutes as good and bad writing and allows a person to implement that knowledge in his or her own writing.
Reading helps you learn new skills as well as gain new knowledge. Writers are a diverse group of people, with a varied knowledge set, and reading a lot of different books allows you to experience that knowledge for yourself, without having to go out and learn it first hand. Writing is a window into the mind of the writer, and an adept reader can get a good view of what the writer knows.
There are many books dedicated to learning a new skill or developing one you already have. There are many books on improving your writing, learning a new language, or learning how to woodwork. There are books on dealing with your finances, travel, and world history. All of these books give readers access to new knowledge, abilities, and passions.
Reading to Experience the World
Picking up a book or a magazine article also allows people to experience the world. Reading about other people and cultures helps people immerse themselves in ideas and worldviews that they would not have had the opportunity to experience otherwise. This kind of reading is helpful in expanding readers’ views, making them more open-minded, tolerant, and culturally compassionate. In our increasingly modern and connected world, this can only be a good thing.
Reading allows us to experience situations without actually experiencing them. I can pick up a book and read about the horrors of genocide, the breakup of a marriage, a torrid affair, or a political scandal. I do not have to experience these things in real life but can glean some benefit from reading about them. For instance, reading about other people’s experiences of genocide, fictional or otherwise, helps in the development of moral intelligence, empathy, and compassion.
In considering other perspectives and angles, reading allows us to open our minds to the possibilities of the people and situations around us, seeing them in a different light than we did before. This encourages us to come up with more creative solutions to problems and more creative uses for objects.
Reading to Develop Emotional Intelligence
Reading can also provide a sort of roadmap for how we should respond to events in life. In reading a book, it is easy to look at a reaction and say, “That is an appropriate reaction” or “That is an inappropriate reaction.” We can look at those actions and apply them in our own lives, again gaining emotional intelligence. There is even some evidence to suggest that reading books that relate to their struggles can help people with depression deal better with their disorder.
There are many ways that reading can change your life, whether it aids in the alleviation of devastating symptoms of depression, increased emotional intelligence, cultivating openness to different cultures and perspectives, a change in your worldview, or improved communication skills. With benefits like these, how many more reasons do you need to go out and pick up a few books, magazines, or newspapers today? Get reading!
About the Author: Lena Paul is a medical school graduate who is an enthusiastic blogger and holds editorial position at PrepGenie, a test prep provider that offers exam preparation courses for GAMSAT, PCAT, LNAT, UKCAT and UMAT.