Reading, what a wonderful thing to do. There are so many benefits, and the only down side I can see is the loss of time. Let’s be honest what would you be doing instead? Watching TV? Stalking your friends on facebook? Well…that does sound kind of fun…no! Snap out of it, don’t be hypnotised by it again, I won’t lose hours of my day watching Scott and Bailey. Oh, I already did…
Anyway, after that strange outburst I may as well make a start on the list.
10 – It’s a welcome distraction
In a world where relaxation is boring and we can’t stand to stay still for more than a few minutes, reading is a welcome break. If you’ve just come back from a hard day at work but you don’t want to numb your brain with monotonous television, pull out a book. A bit of Iain Banks or George Orwell usually sorts me out.
9 – It can be a talking point
We’ve all been in that awkward situation where no one has anything to say: nothing interesting has happened in anyone’s lives; you haven’t seen the latest episode of [insert popular TV program]; and you’re just plain bored. Talk about the book you just read, someone might be interested in it. Sarah Kane once turned a really awkward group session into pure hilarity when I mentioned one of yer plays.
8 – It can be enjoyable
There’s a lot to be said in favour of fiction as an entertainer. It can make you laugh, it can make you smile, it can make you angry, and it can even make you cry. While crying isn’t usually a good thing, it is when the cause is a book. I once cried into a book called ‘A Boy Called It’ when the child, Dave, was forced into a bath of bleach by his mother, it was an autobiography written in the style of a novel which made it a whole lot more emotional.
7- There is a lot of variation
If you’re bored of shows like Law and Order, whose sole purpose seems to be repetition, pay a visit to your local book shop, or shop online on Amazon if you’re lazy like me. There are so many variations of novels, Romance, Thriller, Horror. Alternatively you could pick up a poetry collection, you won’t find much poetry on popular television I can tell you that. There are those genres that seem to be everywhere however, *cough* teenage vampire romance *cough*.
6 – It can be educational
Every novel I read teaches me something new, it can be something simple like finding out that ‘nice’ used to mean ‘neat’, or complex like observing a mentally ill character and how their illness effects others around them. Effectively, the more you read the more you’ll find out, especially of you’re reading non-fiction. Reading Physics books about the Universe, time, and other interesting things has become a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. I would recommend ‘Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel’ by Michio Kaku if you’re interested.
5 – It makes you feel smart
This may make me sound a bit smug, but reading makes me feel intelligent, and I think some people think I’m intelligent because I read. It’s nice to feel clever, i mean, who doesn’t want to be smart? At the very least everyone wants to have more general knowledge. However, be warned, no one is 100% certain if reading causes intelligence, or intelligence causes reading; I’m inclined to agree with both sides of the argument, that is, intelligent people read which makes them more intelligent.
4 – You can bond with the characters
Only in a novel can you connect with characters so intimately. When you watch a film, you know a character for only a couple of hours, but when you read a book, you can get to know the character over days or even weeks depending on how quickly you read. Some may argue that long running TV series like soaps give the viewer a lot of time to connect with characters. This is true but as a viewer you are connecting with an actors take on a character, as a reader you may interpret the same character in a completely different way. Readers can insert a piece of their personality into the characters giving them something else to connect with on an even deeper level.
3 – It allows us to see different points of view
In life we only get to see one version of reality, we walk around our town, village, or city thinking the same things over and over again. However, there is an answer to our desperate plight. Why not experience the world through the eyes of a superhero, or a child, an animal, a person of different ethnic origin, a person of a different social class, perhaps even a murderer, or a rapist. All of these experiences are waiting to be…well experienced…on your local library shelf. So get reading!
2 – Influence on writing
On a personal level, reading helps inspire me to write. A few weeks ago I wrote a piece of flash fiction I called ‘The Slave’ based on a character from a novel called ‘Cambridge’ by Caryl Phillips. Not only plot and character ideas are gained from reading other writer’s work, but also writing styles. If I had never read Nell Dunn’s ‘Up The Junction’ I wouldn’t write dialogue the way I do now, or if I hadn’t read Henry James’ ‘The Turn of the Screw’ I wouldn’t write prose like I do now. Like I said on the point about reading being educational, with everything I read I learn something new.
1 – It makes us better people
Finally, I think reading makes us better people in all respects. It helps us to become more intelligent, more accepting, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving, and more approachable people. What more can you ask of a minimal effort, day-to-day activity? I’ll tell you what, you won’t gain all of this from staring at a computer screen all day waiting for a friend to come online, or from playing online mini-games.
After all that, I only have one more thing to say. Thank you for visiting my blog, I’m off to read.