Treat your brain like a muscle with the best workout routine: reading.
The best time for me to read is when I take the subway. I spend about 40 minutes in public transportation, so it is convenient to kill some time reading while I wait for my stop. Little by little, I forget about my surroundings and I dive into the world of my novel. The sounds of traffic and the crowds around me are replaced by the narrator’s voice and the rest of the passengers slowly turn into the background of my story.
In the city of Cluj-Napoca, in Romania, those who hold a book and read on the bus get free transportation. This initiative started in 2015 because the leader of the project, Victor Miron, wanted to “encourage more people to read on public transportation.” Unfortunately, we don’t have much of those initiatives in the rest of the world yet. Reading is a great exercise for our brain, and many could benefit from it. If you're looking for a reason to start reading more the following list is just what you need:
Are you bored? Read a book. At least that’s what my mom used to say. We’ve grown so dependent on our phones and computers that we’ve forgotten about the entertainment value of literature. Reading a book in your free time will make your boredom disappear.
Reading helps the brain associate words, form sentences, and cultivate a more elevated vocabulary. Think of it this way: you read a beautiful passage from a book, and later on that same passage comes up in a casual conversation. Your brain will adapt to this technique, and little by little, you’ll get used to this language improvement. According to a scientific article titled "What Reading Does for the Mind": "What is immediately apparent is how lexically impoverished is most speech, as compared to written language."
Training your brain to read more improves retention and memory. You’ve probably heard many people say things like, “I’m more of a visual person.” This might be true, but the same practice can be implemented with reading. We have a tendency to watch lots of movies and shows, and this motivates our brain to store more visual images. Reading increases the number of words and symbols we store in our brain.
You're sitting down comfortably with a book and a hot cup of tea. Reading can be a relaxing alternative after a long day of work or school. Think of reading as the stretching exercise that comes after cardio. It relaxes the body and calms the mind. Whenever I have too much in my head, I read a few pages of a book, fall asleep, and wake up with a clear mind – usually with the solution to the problem I had the day before.
Reading is simply the best solution for fixing those grammar mistakes and typos we sometimes miss. If grammar is not your strong point, the practice of reading will take care of those bad writing habits we usually leave to the “spell check” function in our computers to fix . When I read, I usually see words that I spell incorrectly and try my best to avoid writing them the same way again.
Authors have the ability to come up with fictional stories from thin air. I'll give you a reference: Charles Dickens was amazing at imagining fascinating and original new ideas, about which he could write hundreds of pages. Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations are just a few of his best works and show that reading can potentially improve our creativity.
This is an obvious one, but it's still worth mentioning. Reading is a great way to absorb new information. We allow data to enter our brain in many ways but the process of repeating words in our head is twice as stimulating as watching a documentary. As I mentioned above, reading enhances our memory and retention, giving us the ability to become more knowledgeable.
Our introduction to books starts at a young age but we usually stop being interested in bedtime stories, comics, and teen magazines as we get older. Initiatives like the one from Romanian public transportation can change significantly the way our culture sees reading. Another great idea to start reading more is to finding motivation by choosing a book about a specific subject that interests you very much, or joining a book club where you can share the activity with others.
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