I think I came out of the womb reading. My memory of that day is a little fuzzy, so I can’t be sure, but it certainly wasn’t long before you could catch me with a book in my hand just about any time you saw me. When I was pretty young, I started reading the daily newspaper along with my dad. (Dad read almost every article in every edition – Mom always said he read the words right off of the paper.)
Reading is such an obsession for me that I:
- Sometimes read while walking. Those texting-while-walking daredevils have nothing on me. (Mom, no, I don’t mean while walking in traffic.)
- Always have something handy in my purse or tote bag to read (in case of a reading emergency).
- Have been known to read while in the swimming pool (on an inflated raft, with a nice glass of iced tea in the cup holder).
- Keep my library card on my keychain, right next to my Kroger card.
So, if you thought I was going to use my R to write about running, you were wrong. Today it’s all about the books (and newspapers, and magazines, and …).
Some of what I get from reading can be yours, too. Here are four benefits of reading:
IT BRINGS ENJOYMENT.
As many people have said (more eloquently than I), books can transport you to places you never imagined. When I was younger, I read strictly because I enjoyed it. Teaching your children to enjoy books and words is something you’ll never regret. As Theodor Seuss Geisel so eloquently put it:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
IT PROVIDES INFORMATION.
I may be an information junkie, I don’t know. I’m not sure there’s a 12-step program for it, but if there were, it probably would take a family intervention to get me to a meeting. I love reading materials of all kinds – it’s almost a compulsion. (I’ve even been known to read the back of a cereal box if that’s the only thing available.)
“The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is
power and to keep reading.” – David Bailey
IT HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORLD, AND IT FOSTERS EMPATHY.
I read a variety of genres, and each one opens my mind to something or someone new. I am a white American woman in her early 50s. I have never been sent to a concentration camp, run an ultramarathon, been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or worked as the keeper of a lighthouse, but I’ve read books about all of those things. Reading opens me to perspectives I hadn’t considered. I’m free to accept or reject those perspectives, but never without thinking about them.
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from
various points of view.” ― George Eliot
“Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature
and poetry.” – Cassandra Clare
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people
to stop reading them.” – Isaac Asimov
“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them
is not reading them.” – Joseph Brodsky
IT “SHARPENS THE SAW.”
When Stephen Covey talks about “sharpening the saw,” he’s speaking about all areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual. In my opinion, reading feeds all those areas, aside from perhaps the physical (although I might try to make a case for that, too, because I listen to audiobooks on the treadmill 🙂 ). In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which I will review tomorrow), Covey confines reading to the mental (“reading”) and the spiritual (“study and meditation”). I would argue that it could go legitimately in the social/emotional category, too.
I’m a member of a monthly reading group that meets in a bookstore and discusses books. (A second, smaller reading group [discussing the works of C.S. Lewis] is on hiatus for a few months – we just got too busy.) Those sessions enhance my social and emotional well-being, as well as the intellectual part of my brain.
If you’re reading solely for “pleasure” (only fiction, for example), you’re missing out on a great way to keep your mind sharp, and sometimes that means skills you’ll use in other parts of your life – business, volunteer work, parenting … Studies find that those who read are more successful in school and in life than those who don’t.
“You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and
listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with
encouraging and hope-building people.” – Zig Ziglar
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles William Eliot
I know people who “hate to read,” and I feel sorry for them. Reading transports and transforms me. It makes me a better me.
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler
You don’t have to confine your reading to books. There are good magazines, great websites, newspapers, um, blogs …
Just read a little something today. Give your mind a stretch.
Tomorrow: S is for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Part 1.
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