Earlier this week, I had a midterm that really caught me off guard. I spent hours studying and even more hours stressing out. I needed something to help me relax. That’s when I walked into my room, threw my bag on the ground and saw my stack of books I still hadn't read.
I picked up “Strange Wine” by Harlan Ellison and started reading away. After about an hour or so into it, I realized just how much of a better mood I was in.
That stack was sitting there for probably a semester, and yet it never occurred to me just how much reading helped me relax. For being an English major, I didn’t really read often — at least reading that wasn’t for a class.
I felt like I’ve been neglecting books for too long. I’ve been more caught up in watching shows and laying down on my phone, staring at brain-numbing videos.
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I know that I’m not the only one when I say this, but for so long I have viewed reading as boring. Why should I read “The Histories” when I can watch a dude chug a boot full of baked beans? Instead of learning new perspectives and amazing stories, my imagination has been draining into my screen.
Our generation has been zombified – but there is hope for us. That hope is reading. Instead of wasting our creativity on instant dopamine, let's sharpen our minds by picking up a book.
The first reason you should read is that it helps improve and increase your vocabulary. The more you read, the more words you are exposed to, and the more versatile your speech becomes.
Having a better vocabulary helps so much in the long run. It can help with graduate school admissions, better test scores and even job opportunities. The more words you have in your arsenal, the more effective you can become as a communicator.
Instead of being the bad speaker in the group, you can now be the head of the operation.
The second benefit is that reading literally helps your brain. The brain is full of complex networks and connections that are always firing. Whenever you read, these networks strengthen and become more efficient.
If you read consistently over time, your brain will become healthier, sharper and more connective than ever before. This can also help prevent cognitive decline as you grow older.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are very serious threats to many people as they age. Studies show that reading helps keep the brain functional at an old age and helps avert the growth of these diseases.
I know I love watching road-rage compilations on YouTube for hours straight with my roommates, but we aren’t using our brains. Instead of being figurative human sponges, we should maybe read and hone our cerebrums.
An important reason you should read is that it strengthens your ability to empathize with others. Whenever you read stories about characters who go through the impossible- who face difficult challenges and adversity throughout the novel – you empathize with them. The act of reading is a figurative bridge that connects the individual to the character, and you feel for the people in these stories.
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Though some of these characters and stories may be fictional, the emotions and feelings poured onto the page by the author exist. The ability to feel empathy from these stories then improves your ability to feel for others around you.
Reading not only makes you smarter and your brain healthier, but it literally makes you a better person. How could you argue against that? Seriously, become a better person and read "Hamlet.” Do it!
Reading also helps lower stress and blood pressure. When you begin to read, your heart rate and respiratory rate slow down. Therefore, reading can be a part of a healthy routine.
So don’t stress and burn out from schoolwork, sit back and read.
I get it, though. Books have a lot of words and not a lot of visuals. But because I started reading again, I have been in such a better mood this week. It seems dull when compared to the spontaneous content from my phone, but it pays off so much in the long run.
Our world is so fast paced and there is so much information being shared all at once. It’s time to stop taking books for granted. Step back, slow down and read for a bit.
Nick Moser (he/him) is a senior majoring in English and minoring in political science and film production.