Benefits of Reading: 10 reasons which should encourage you to read

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While few of us are able to practice reading as a profession, but even if you are a casual reader there are many benefits to it. Be it reading a blog, newspaper, book or magazine, anything read daily and for a reasonably good time will surely give you a good mental exercise. And yes, just like your body your brain too needs some exercise.

Everyone has an inclination towards books or articles falling in a particular genre, but thanks to the age and country we live in you won’t be limited by the number of books or articles available to choose from.

Each book or article you read will broaden your horizons and help you understand the world and human nature from the perspective of someone else.

Reading has many benefits; here are 10 reasons which should encourage you to read.

1. Vocabulary - When you read an article or a book you may come across a new word(s) or a different usage of a word you are already familiar with. These newly learned words increase your vocabulary, and if you make these words part of your daily conversations, not only will the other person be impressed but you won’t easily forget that word. If your present focus is to just increase your vocabulary, books like Word power made easy by Norman Lewis might come in handy.

2. Creativity - Unlike a TV serial or a movie, reading will make you think. Since unlike a TV or a movie your book is not going to have moving images and you will have to use your imagination to build an image of the characters and the settings. A good book like Godan by Munshi Premchand, will make you ditch all distractions and focus. It is this focus that will act as a catalyst and increase your creativity.

3. Pleasure - Different people seek different types of pleasure. Some enjoy playing outdoor sports involving heavy physical exercise; others simply enjoy sitting on their couch and watching them play. Same is the case with readers, there are people who enjoy reading comics, others enjoy reading someone else’s personal diary and there are a few who may love memorising user manuals. For me reading an article in The Times of India by Bachi Karkaria does the job.

4. History - One way to learn history is by simply picking up a history book. Which is interesting if you are a history buff, or if you study or teach history, or if you are preparing for a quiz contest. As for the rest of us, we really think twice (or maybe thrice) before picking up a history book. But if you want to know more about your country, India: A History by John Keay would be a nice place to start. Don’t expect to finish the book overnight, after all it covers 5000 years of South Asian history. For people interested in world history, Glimpses of world history by Jawaharlal Nehru would be a nice book to start with.

Then there is a 1853 memoir and slave narrative 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson.

This is not a history book, but Northup's account provides extensive details on the slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, and describes at length cotton and sugar cultivation and slave treatment on major plantations in Louisiana.

5. News and Information - Readers digest, India Today, Cosmopolitan magazine, Outlook Traveller, animal-wellness magazine, etc you can find a lot of magazines that will not only keep you hooked up but also provide valuable information and analysis. I personally find it very relaxing reading an article or two while having my Sunday evening tea. Also, it would be a good idea to read your favourite magazine while you enjoy the winter sun.

Each magazine has its own strong areas, and once you start reading them you would find the perfect one (or perfect ones) to suit your needs.

6. Empathy - This is especially true if you are reading literary fiction novel, like Sacrifice - The Road to Obscurity by Pradeep Shrivastava. Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School for Social Research in New York, have proved that literary fiction enhances the ability to understand other person's emotions, an essential skill in navigating complex social relationships.

"What great writers do is to turn you into the writer. In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others," said Kidd.

7. Reduces stress - Different things work for different people, but according to many of my friends reading 50 shades by E. L. James reduces the stress levels in their lives. Never asked them if reading the entire book brings down their stress levels or is it just a few specific pages, probably you will have to read the novel (or series) to find out the answer yourself. I would personally suggest the works of Rabindranath Tagore, but as I said earlier different things work for different people.

8. Fighting Alzheimer’s - A research which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found elderly people who regularly read or play mentally challenging games are 2 ½ times less likely to have the debilitating illness.

The study's main author, Dr. Robert Freidland, claims people who don't exercise their gray matter stand a chance of losing brain power.

There is no specific book which can help you avoid Alzheimer's, but reading long engaging books like Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie or Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak should keep you busy for quite some time, unless you start skipping the novel’s pages or decide to see the movie instead. For people interested in reading short stories with a message, there is nothing like Panchtantra by Vishnu Sharma.

9. Life goals - Reading about someone who overcame obstacles may motivate you to meet your own goals. The story of my experiments with truth by Mahatma Gandhi is an inspiring autobiography. We studied the book during our school days, and probably so is the case with you. But if you still haven’t read the book, it is quite reasonably priced and it is high time you know a thing or two about the man whose image you see on Indian currency notes.

Novels written by Paulo Coelho and Shiv Khera are nice especially for the young and impressionable minds. Although it is never too late to read a nice and motivational book, you can always pass the wisdom thus attained to your children or grandchildren.

10. Reading can save your cash - Take the example of One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat, the online price of the novel is Rs. 83.60. Compare this to going to see a movie along with the interval snacks and drinks, or having a couple of drinks at a nearby pub. Reading is a much more cost-effective splurge for your entertainment.

Although there are many more benefits to reading, but these should be sufficient to motivate you to start reading on a regular basis.

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