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4 Reasons to Develop a Book Habit (and How to Start)

 

At some point in the last century, interest in reading took a sharp dive. While the book industry as a whole has largely recovered, there are still many people that dislike reading or have—believe it or not—never actually read a book from start to finish. The rise of technology and advances in mobile entertainment probably haven’t helped, but many non-readers probably decided that reading wasn’t for them during another long lecture about the importance of reading Shakespeare with the proper dialect back in high school.

Reading can have a powerful impact on your health, and it can enrich your life as well. If reading a book sounds intimidating or boring, bear with me. I have some suggestions for making it easy and fun, but first, let’s talk about some of the health rewards that a regular reading habit delivers:

1. Reading reduces stress.

Stress is a driver of inflammation and can also lead to overeating as well as disrupted sleep patterns. Reading a book, according to a 2009 University of Sussex study, can actually lower stress by as much as 68% in some people.

2. Reading protects your brain.

The mental engagement that comes with reading a book can actually improve and guard brain health. The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation equates reading to brain exercise and suggests that we read to help prevent Alzheimer’s.

3. Reading helps promote healthy sleep.

Late night screen time is preventing people around the world—from children to adults—from getting healthy, restful sleep. The Mayo Clinic suggests replacing screen time with book time for your bedtime ritual to relax your mind and soothe you into peaceful sleep.

4. Reading helps you grow as a person.

If you read non-fiction, you can learn about anything you want, which helps to keep your brain stimulated and open to new ideas. If you read fiction, you might actually increase your empathy, which is good for you and the people around you.

There are a multitude of benefits associated with reading that we haven’t covered, but these are my favorites. My hope is that these potential rewards make you more willing to try reading again, but I understand if you’re still hesitant. If you don’t consider yourself a natural reader, picking up a book might seem like a painful chore. It doesn’t have to be!

Try these tips:

  • Read about something you enjoy. You don’t need to read a tome of dense fiction. If you like sports, for example, pick up a biography about an athlete you admire.
  • Audiobooks are a good place to start. If you have a long commute or end up watching television when you fold laundry, try listening to an audiobook instead.
  • Take your time. No one is judging your progress. If you can read just a single page a day, you will have achieved something great.
  • Turn off your cellphone. Use your reading time as a chance to step away from electronics, especially if you are reading at night before bed.

Reading is one of the great joys in my life, and I hope that it becomes a great joy for you as well.

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