Pleasure reading for your well-being

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Story by Jackson Moore, Reporter

Reading is an aspect of life that we as humans probably think about very little in comparison to the degree that we use it. Every time I think about my ability to read, I recall a question my friend asked me when I was in my sophomore year of highschool. We were in a creative writing class together, and he asked me how I was able to write so well and tell intricate stories that had developed plots and immersive detail. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was not exceptional in any way. However, I have always thought of myself as a good writer who loves telling stories, and I told him that I simply wrote like many of my favorite authors (Mark Greany, Greg Hurwitz and Lee Child to name a few). I then added my own spin, ideas and plot to make the story my own.

I spent long periods of time wondering why I was so far ahead of my peers. The answer came after I began doing a research assignment on the benefits that come with pleasure reading. What I found blew my mind and provided many answers to the questions I had been asking for a long time.

In an article published in the Grand Rapids Press, that relied on statistics from more than 40 studies (conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, the Census Bureau and a number of non-governmental organizations), the impact of pleasure reading was stressed in relation to the effect it has on one’s academic, personal and mental wellbeing. 

In terms of academics, pleasure reading has been found to increase one’s ability to read, write and communicate ideas. It has also been found to help with retention of information and the ability to improve memory. Funnily enough, pleasure reading has even been linked to the ability to improve one’s capacity in mathematics – though sadly, I must admit that I have never experienced this benefit.

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In personal and social life, pleasure reading has been found to increase one’s ability to communicate ideas effectively, understand their own social identity, increase empathy, improve relationships with others and provide understanding of differing worldviews and experiences throughout life.

A study done by Daniel Eriksson Sörman showed that pleasure reading helps with overall brainpower and over time could lead to preventing cognitive decline due to aging. Furthermore, pleasure reading can help reduce depression while promoting emotional well-being, something that is becoming increasingly important in society today as burnout, depression and stress levels are high. 

Reading for pleasure can make you happier, healthier and stronger. If you’ve never tried reading for pleasure, give it a shot. Find a genre that interests you and allow yourself to be taken on an adventure unlike any other. What do you have to lose? At the very least, you’ll be improving your quality of life and, who knows, maybe you’ll even find yourself enjoying the escape.

I remember my friend responding with a slightly confused nod, mentioning that he wasn’t much of a reader and had never really read a book cover to cover before – something that quite literally broke my heart as someone who had read every night before bed since the age of six and had his dad read to him every night before that since birth. 

Categories: Opinion, The Saint