I have to admit that I am a total bookworm, and I always have been. I love being able to escape reality for a few hours by losing myself in an amazing story. I also enjoy reading nonfiction books to teach myself some helpful life hacks.
Reading books allows me to explore new ideas, get inspired, and be anything I want. If you really want to improve your life and become a better person, books are the way to go. They give you access to knowledge that can make your life easier, more enjoyable, and definitely more interesting.
I know what you’re thinking, though. Almost every good novel has a movie version (or one in the making), and every self-improvement book’s topics have countless YouTube tutorials on them. So, why read when you can have the short version?
Before you dismiss books as a way to improve your life, let’s talk about five ways that books can help you in more ways than you can ever imagine.
How Do Books Improve Your Memory?
Books can do more than just provide you with hours of enjoyment or teach you something new. What you don’t know is that books can have a significant impact on your memory.
You’ve probably already experienced brain fog a couple of times. You have a great idea and suddenly lose your train of thought.
Or, you can’t seem to remember that important thing your friend mentioned last night.
Luckily, books help improve your memory capacity.
When you read, your brain is primed to remember information. This is how you can follow a story, quote favorite lines, and apply those self-improvement principles in your life.
I haven’t met a reader who can’t remember what they’ve read. Often, they’re great at retelling stories and sharing the theories they’ve encountered. This is how you know your memory’s improving with reading.
Bloom’s taxonomy classifies remembering as a lower-order thinking skill, which means it’s already a basic thing for us to be able to recall things. This skill helps us memorize information and access it when needed.
When our brain is not used to a simple recall function, it adjusts to not needing to do it. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty scary thought to me.
The principle of use it or lose it definitely applies here. So let’s get to using it!
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How Does Reading Improve Memory?
So, can reading really improve your memory? The answer is yes! Reading improves brain health and flexibility, which makes it easier to remember things. These studies show you how.
The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation cites scientific evidence that mentally challenging tasks can help people with Alzheimer’s. You may already be familiar with this disease characterized by memory loss that disrupts a person’s day-to-day life.
You don’t necessarily have to jump right into that Sudoku puzzle or grab the nearest Rubik’s cube. If you’re not into those things, there’s always a simpler way to challenge yourself mentally, and that is through reading.
Obviously, if you’re not big into reading, you might not want to jump into a book in Shakespearean English. Just skim some over and find one that has some words or topics you don’t know. You can always level up the challenge as you keep reading.
It is also common for people who claim they don’t enjoy reading to simply not have discovered a genre or topic they love yet. Consider your hobbies and interests and search for some books on those topics. I can almost guarantee that there are some outstanding books you will enjoy available.
If you simply cannot stand physically reading a book, however, consider listening to an audiobook. You can still gain so many of the benefits of reading through listening to an audiobook.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley confirmed that reading enhances the brain’s memory function. Their study found that reading reduces the brain protein responsible for the failing memory of a person with Alzheimer’s.
Cognitive stimulation plays a huge role in keeping a person’s memory intact. I’m not just talking about reading a book every once in a while. You have to really get into the habit so you’ll get the regular mental exercise you need to stay sharp.
With a steady reading habit, you don’t need to buy memory-enhancing supplements or brain-boosting drinks. All it really takes is to pick up a book and get right into it.
How Do Books Improve Your Self Esteem?
Books help shape your entire outlook on life and the way you go about doing things. When you read, you gain more knowledge, develop skills, and come across new ideas. These things allow you to gain confidence and can make you feel good about yourself.
The flawed characters in a well-written story give you a peek into human complexity. You learn from their lessons without having to experience them yourself. An engaging self-help book with practical ways of winning at life allows you to become a better person and feel like you can conquer the world.
I’ve always felt like I’m on top of the world after reading an enriching book. This is because I know I have a better understanding of the world around me. I feel more alive, confident, and not the same person I once was.
Also, when I want to learn more about a specific topic, I read various books and online articles related to the topic. I’m then able to better understand things and decide if I want to look into something at a deeper level.
A 2019 study published in the English Language Teaching Educational Journal showed that reading comprehension is directly related to self-esteem. This means that the better you become at reading, the more confident you will be. The opposite is true with little to no practice at all with reading – it can quickly lower your self-esteem.
How Do Books Improve Your Vocabulary?
Reading books from good writers allows you to pick up on effective communication. The best writers can express and explain challenging topics in a simple manner. Reading these works improves your vocabulary as you indirectly learn how to express yourself in this powerful way.
It’s no secret that a good vocabulary is a powerful tool for success. Being able to speak and write clearly shows you have a high level of intelligence.
Intelligent people are primarily good communicators. They are masters of their thought and can easily translate what they want to say.
You’ll Find It Easier To Learn
A study in 2011 observed the Matthew effect among young readers. This phenomenon is based on the saying, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” When applied to reading, it means the more knowledge one has, the easier it is to gain more.
I guess the same is true for people who start off with little or no knowledge. It can get tough to catch up. But, I say it’s never too late to start.
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You Can Say What You Mean
You’ve probably fumbled over your words at some point when you wanted to say one thing but ended up saying something else. If this happens often, then this has a lot to do with your limited vocabulary.
When you have difficulty finding the right words to convey your ideas, it can quickly cause miscommunication. And we all know that effective communication is a skill that everyone needs to get ahead in life.
A Cengage group survey conducted in 2019 showed that effective communication is one of the top skills employers are looking for. With this information, it’s hard to slack off with reading when you know your future’s on the line.
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You Can Use Context Clues
Reading improves your vocabulary because this is how you encounter new words, commit them to memory, and learn how to use them.
The great thing about books is they provide enough context for us to know what words mean. So, even if you’re too lazy to Google synonyms, you will still develop a rough idea of how those words should be used using context clues.
You’ll Sound Much Better
Have you ever met someone so articulate that it makes them instantly attractive? An impressive vocabulary does that for you. It just makes you sound more polished.
A great vocabulary elevates your status in both business and social settings. You can easily communicate what you want and give excellent value in conversations. You don’t have to scramble for the right words and can instantly figure out precisely what to say.
How Do Books Improve Your Writing?
Books are an excellent resource to help you improve your writing. You may have already experienced stopping to re-read a beautifully written sentence or just marveling at how inspired a work is. You see, the more exposed you are to exceptionally written books, the more you learn how to write well.
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You Learn How To Be Concise
By reading books, you get to discover a thing or two from the way reputable writers do it. Eventually, you use them to improve your own style. Reading great works by experienced writers allows you to understand advanced sentence structures and concise writing.
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You Choose Your Influences
Don’t get me wrong, not all books are created equal. Some books have earned the nods of critics, while some are just dime-store reads.
When it comes to writing, you’re only as good as the sum of your influences.
If you choose quality reads, you’ll end up learning from the greats. If you choose poorly written ones, then no amount of reading can improve your writing.
How Do Books Improve Imagination?
When you read something, you create your own image of what you understood in that writing. So while an author can do an incredible job of describing characters and scenes, your mind still does the work of piecing everything together. What you piece together may be very different from what the author actually thought of, but this is your imagination going to work, and that’s great.
This is why books are a great way to improve your imagination as opposed to movies, for example. Everything is laid out for you visually in movies, and you simply get to enjoy the storyline. Books allow you to be creative and expand your imagination.
Books expand your knowledge and give you access to a broader worldview. Books allow us to travel through time and space – we can visit ancient Rome, the Wild West, or even the rings of Saturn.
Books let us meet people from all walks of life, learn about their struggles and triumphs, and become part of their stories.
You Get Used to Images
Reading is just plain fun because it fires up your imagination, especially when the words are so sensory-focused that an image forms in your mind. The more you can imagine these images described in books, the more your mind learns how to create new visuals of your own.
No wonder people who love to read are usually the ones who are most creative!
You’ll Have a Nice Escape
I’m sure you’ve heard this several times before – books are a great escape. Some of the most well-read individuals may be even richer in experience compared to well-traveled ones. This is because they give in to wherever their imagination takes them.
It’s much easier to believe in whimsical places and magical creatures when you’re used to reading books. What is impossible is made probable. You can get lost in the worlds you encounter and immerse yourself fully as though you were part of them.
It’s Never Too Late to Start the Habit
Whether you used to read as a kid and stopped or haven’t read that much in your life, it’s not too late to start the habit of reading. I know many people who have only recently discovered the joys of reading for pleasure, and it has helped them tremendously.
Reading gives you something to entertain yourself with and offers an escape from the real world when things feel tough.
By now, I think we can all agree that books are a great way to improve as a person.
Books help boost your memory, vocabulary, creativity, communication skills, and self-esteem. With these remarkable benefits in mind, it’s hard not to give reading a try. Books are a relatively cheap and accessible way to be the person you want to be and more.
Knowing how books can be a valuable source of knowledge, I can’t imagine my life without them. Start your reading habit today and experience all these great benefits for yourself.