Why should you read books? The modern world is filled with so many other means of absorbing information, whether this be social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.), the latest TV show added to Netflix, or the newest video game out on Steam. So what’s the point of reading, is it worth the effort and the time you have to put into it?
As I will explain in this blog, yes, reading is worth it, and there are many reasons why. The reason why I’m making a blog post about this, is the fact that I’ve seen the number of peers reading steadily decreasing, and I think this true throughout the world. The Pew Research Center reported last year that 23% of American adults, nearly a quarter, had not read a single book in the previous 12 months . This number is triple that of the percentage of adults that didn’t read a single book in 1978. The trend of decreasing book reading doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
But this post isn’t about other people. It’s about you, and why you should start reading, or read more than you are right now.
Increases Vocabulary Size
If you read books, you will most likely encounter unknown words, that perhaps your friends do not use in casual and formal talk. When you do encounter these words, looking up their definition adds a new word to your lexicon. Studies have shown that, not only does a greater vocabulary indicate your intelligence, it also increases your average income. 
If you happen to read on most e-books, looking up definitions is as easy as tapping the word that you don’t know as shown in the video below:
It’s difficult to appear smart if your vocabulary is lackluster, which can be easily fixed by reading books to fuel your vocabulary!
Enhances Writing Skills
People write to share their knowledge with the reader. Some do so better than others, which is why reading books made by good writers can teach you many things and make you a better writer.  Authors like J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Hobbit) have nearly perfected descriptive writing, while writers like Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code, Inferno) are masters of suspense.
Writing is an essential job skill, and something that you will be doing in almost any career you decide to go into. Like your vocabulary capacity, being a good writer really helps people believe that you are an educated person. The ability to read books to make you a better writer makes it another good reason to be something to incorporate into your life.
After a hard day at work or school, people are often tired or stressed out. A very good way to relax yourself is reading. Reading forces you to sit in a comfortable position, and stay in one place for a while. When you read a book, you go into a different world, or you hear a wise person’s words. Reading helps open your mind, and hear different opinions from different people and cultures (something that usually can’t be obtained from reading the news). Books can literally change your life or your perspective on how you view things. Here’s a short but interesting TED talk on how reading can open your mind:
Improves Memory and Analytic Skills
While reading, your brain is constantly working, trying to understand what is happening, or why somebody is saying something. You analyze information in front of you, and then you make predictions and connections. As Maryanne Wolf explains in Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, “Typically, when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don’t press pause.”  This improves both your analytic skills and memory, which are extremely useful skills to have.
One could argue that reading costs a lot of money, since the average book costs $10 to $20, and if you own hundreds of books, that adds up. But the average book contains 64,000 words , and the average reading speed being 200 words per minute , so simple math indicates that, in general, books give you around 5 hours of entertainment, and longer books such as “War and Peace” (which contains 544,406 words) can take nearly ten times longer. That’s gives you good value for your money, but if that’s not enough, there’s many ways to get books for cheaper.
Firstly, going to the library! Nearly all people have a library near them, and libraries usually contain any book that you could possibly want to read, so going to one to grab yourself something to read for free is a great idea. But what if you want to keep the books for further reading, without the inconvenience of going to the library? E-books, especially classics, are free or really, really cheap. You can go grab an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (the e-book I currently read with) for only $119!  Amazon has also recently introduced Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99 a month, you have unlimited access to a library of over 700,000 books, and you don’t even have to have a Kindle for it! 
Another fantastic resource for free, legally acquired, books is Project Gutenberg. Although the majority of novels on that website are written 50 or more years ago, there is still a choice of over 46,000 ebooks. The books are available in different formats and with pictures or without. They also get installed very quickly, so if you have an electronic device such as a laptop, kindle or tablet, you can choose the appropriate format to download and within seconds you’ll be reading a high quality book.
I think that the main reason why people stop or don’t begin reading is that they associate it with boredom. If you didn’t read a book in a long time, you might think of reading as slowly flipping through endless pages of words, which doesn’t seem quite as appealing as the flashy scenes in movies and video games. This is perfectly understandable, as this has caused me to stop reading for some time before. But whenever I come back, I realize how entertaining it is. Whether I’m reading a book by Jules Verne, such as Mysterious Island or Around the World in 80 Days, or re-reading The Hobbit or Harry Potter, I am plunged into a wonderful world, whether it be made up or real. I become the protagonist, and I share his emotions and feelings. I become part of a captivating adventure, experiencing all the twists and turns in a good book. It’s truly a wonderful experience, and some authors write with such talent, that I have difficulty putting down their books.
There are also so many books, that there is one to appeal to virtually everyone. Whether you like books filled with adventure, fantasy, history, facts, romance, advice for life, suspense, poetry, religion, horror, action, science fiction or mystery, there’s one for you.
Which brings me to my next point. I think it is important that you read a book that’s good. Although there are a myriad of excellent titles, there also many bad books by talent-less authors. Books like that can ruin your opinion of reading, and make you give up on it. So here’s a list of the top “top 100 book” lists. All top books lists are written with some sort of bias, so having a bunch of these lists you can see recurring titles. And don’t just limit your self to one book- if you’ve read a great novel by an author, consider reading more of his or her works.
In conclusion, reading books is not only interesting and captivating, it also has some great benefits to your mind and it’s an inexpensive hobby. So put the gadgets away for a bit, do some research, find a book that interests you, and do yourself a favor by reading it.
My recommendations for great books to start with
Fantasy– Hobbit, this book is the first written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and is essentially a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The reason why I’m recommending it over LOTR is the fact that the latter is very complex and drawn out, and might not appeal to everyone, while the Hobbit is much more light-hearted and a simple read (simpler, but not dumbed down). I’ve read it at least three times, and everytime I do so, it makes me very happy. Although I prefer LOTR for its grander scale, it’s better to read the Hobbit first because it is appealing to a wider range of people, and if you really like it, than you can move on to the sequels for a more “epic” experience.
Science Fiction– Deathworld, this novel is about Jason dinAlt, a professional gambler that ends up in a journey to the universe’s most dangerous planet. This book is not so well-known, but is a great starter to sci-fi, as it is written without using complex words and still manages to be entertaining. Another great sci-fi book is the classic War of the Worlds.
Mystery– Sherlock Holmes, this collection of 56 short stories and 4 books by Conan Doyle includes some of the most interesting and thought-provoking works I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I would start with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and go from there. They’re very intelligent and fun, and a great book to start with.
Adventure– The Mysterious Island, this is one of the many masterpieces by Jules Verne. I actually only finished reading it a couple weeks ago. It’s a book about five castaways on a deserted (or maybe not?) island that have to adapt to the environment, and as the book progress, they start to create their own civilized colony. I found the premise and plot twists captivating.
Thriller– The Da Vinci Code. I found this book a mix between mystery, suspense and thriller. I probably read this book quicker than any other book in my life. This book is very difficult to put down, and I found myself flipping through pages, wondering what was going to happen next. So many twists and turns made the book exciting to read.
Humor– The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I almost forgot about this one! This is a really funny take on science fiction, and had me laughing out loud at several points while reading. It is definitely worth a read, and there was a half decent movie made out of it too.
- So what is your opinion on reading- should it be something that people do more often?
- Do you believe that reading should see an increase as part of the school curriculum, and if so, why?
- If you’re a teacher, how do you assess the reading of your students (especially high-school where there is no DRA-like testing)?
- Do you have book recommendations? Any comments below would be appreciated. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Think before you speak. Read before you think. -Frank Lebowitz
Articles for further reading:
 Weissmann, J. (2014). The Decline of the American Book Lover. The Atlantic. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-decline-of-the-american-book-lover/283222/
 Hirsch, E. (2013). A Wealth of Words by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., City Journal Winter 2013. City-journal.org. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://www.city-journal.org/2013/23_1_vocabulary.html
 More Reading Leads to Better Writing. (2015) (1st ed.). Retrieved from http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/wac/newsletters/N4a.pdf
 Habash, G. (2015). Guess How Many Words Are In The Average Novel. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/book-length_n_1334636.html
 Wolf, M., & Stoodley, C. (2007). Proust and the squid. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
 Readingsoft.com,. (2015). Speed Reading Test Online. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://www.readingsoft.com/
 Amazon.com,. (2015). Kindle Paperwhite – Released 2012 – Fact Sheet. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Paperwhite-Touch-light/dp/B007OZNZG0
 Amazon.com,. (2015). Learn More about Kindle Unlimited. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1002872331