Ruby is a freelance writer from the Philippines. She teaches communication courses and enjoys gardening and reading as her other pastimes.
As a kid in the 1970’s, I observed that whenever people waited on bus stations or any waiting area, many of them engaged in reading--deep reading. Of course, a few did talk. But I usually saw many reading, either a newspaper or a book. This carried on even to the 1980’s. However, when mobile phones began to boom, I discovered that people engaged in reading newspapers or books has lessened. Today, I could hardly see one individual reading wherever I find a waiting crowd or bystanders. No. Almost no one does. Instead, I see everyone glued to his gadget not reading, but just scrolling it. Reading, has become a forgotten subject. It has remained in the backseat these recent years.
According to Risa Watnick and Andrew Perrin, “Roughly a quarter of American adults (23%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021”
But why read anyway? Does reading offer us any benefit? Is there something in reading that deserves our attention? Why do teachers in schools require students to read something? Is there any wisdom in it? Below are eight out of the many reasons for reading, that I have gained through the years.
1. Reading combats boredom.
There is no boredom that would take place when someone is enthused with reading. When I start reading, excitement replaces boredom. For example, when I read a good story, I'm eager to know what's next. And I don't want to stop until it's finished. In fact, sometimes I forget my other tasks. Further, in reading, I am able to visit other places I wish I've been there. So, how can life be boring? No. No boredom would ever happen for one who reads. "There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away nor any coursers like a page of prancing poetry..." as Emily Dickinson expresses.
2. Reading affects a person's emotional growth.
Reading stretches a person’s mind, widening his horizon. After I reading, my mind is sometimes forced to think of things beyond my daily encounters. In books I discover some stuff that I have not known before. I gain fresh information which I would have missed had I not engaged in reading. It helps me to understand things and people better. I learn about other cultures and customs. I begin to have a better view and outlook in life. I have more sensible and lofty perspectives in life. In a study recently conducted, Jamia Baba and Faiza Affendi (2020), state,"...reading affects intellectual and emotional growth of an individual. Those who read well have more chances in widening their mental horizons and better opportunities of success."
3. Reading enhances one’s ability to concentrate.
Reading brings a person’s mind to focus. When the mind is focused on something, it is trained to be more attentive in the more pragmatic things in life. As I read it forces me to center my thoughts on what I am reading. Reading teaches me to set my thoughts on something I want to focus on. This is called concentration. This skill is useful in numerous ways in life, especially for people whose work requires a lot of planning and thinking.
4. Reading develops good judgement.
When I read something, I don’t normally take in everything that I read. I sift things through my mind and decide which ones to take later. Sometimes, I even argue or discuss with the author in my mind. I process some stuff I want to embrace but dismiss ideas that I dislike. This requires a lot of choosing. Thus, it enhances my reasoning skill. It makes me a better decision maker. It improves your thinking skill and judgement.
5. Reading makes someone a pro.
Each time I listen to a speaker, I can tell if the speaker is a wide reader or not. Speakers who do not read a lot have very wishy-washy talks. But speakers who read widely, have deeper and more meaningful speeches even if they only talk briefly. They say their thoughts with more confidence and sense. Their words are more authoritative and convincing. When a student, I always admired my teachers who demonstrated expertise in their fields. As I asked them why, they had a consistent and concise answer, “I read a lot of books.” I got that point too to this day and I’m grateful to my teachers who have influenced me in this reading habit.
6. Reading provides an individual with sheer pleasure.
Nothing makes one laugh than reading a good-a humorous piece in a book. Books are a comedian that keeps me company wherever I go even amidst boring people. When I read, my body relaxes and my heartbeat slows down. It makes me happy and gives me a feeling of great pleasure. “The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which is no alloy, it lasts when all other pleasures fade,” adds Anthony Trollope.
7. Reading makes one a better speller and grammarian.
Stephen Krashen confirms, “Spelling is improved when reading is done.” As one reads, the mind and eyes get used to see the correct spelling and grammar in the book being read. This will be assimilated as one does it often.
When I entered junior high, I was a bad speller and didn’t even know grammar. But I admired and envied my English I teacher since she spoke fluent English though a Filipino. So, I began to idolise that teacher and I wanted to speak the way she did. I sometimes dozed off and even slept in some of my classes, but not in hers. I made sure I opened my eyes wide in her class! More than anything else, I wanted to be close to that teacher. With her in mind, I started a reading adventure. Each night before going to bed I would read for straight three hours. On top of that, I began to memorise the words and their meanings in Daniel Webster’s Dictionary. That went on for several months. But you know, after finishing only letter C in that dictionary, I decided to quit thinking I would go insane. But that crazy adventure I had, developed my habit of reading and use of dictionary to this day. It helped me become a good grammarian and better speller. "Thanks to teacher Martha Guanzon for your spark in me, wherever you are today."
8. Reading refines a person's character.
Reading from good books, polishes rough manners. Observe those people who are good readers, you will discover that they are more sensible and refined in their actions than those who don’t find time to read. When they speak, what they say have more sense than those who don't. You see, books are a good teacher, a good refiner of people. They teach the readers to be careful be it in acting or speaking. The great scientist Rene Descartes supports this idea when he declares, “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men in the past centuries.”
There is something about reading that we need to reconsider. Reading is not merely opening a book and gazing at the words or babbling them. Reading takes you to a different world--a world of excitement, a world of introspection, a world of the elite. The English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon affirms, “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, writing an exact man.”
Thus, instead of wasting long hours, glued to your TV set or playing computer games, why not pick up a good book and start reading? This way, you can be more knowledgeable, more refined, and more productive. Apostle Paul suggests, "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine"(1 Timothy 4:13, KJV).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Ruby Campos