If you’re anything like me maybe you have four or five books on the go at any one time. I just adore reading and always have done. And in this pic you can see my Summer reads (on the right) plus my son’s stash of Alex Ryder books donated to the Little Free Library I steward in our village. Those holiday books were all read only 3 days into the holiday too!

Today is National Book Reading day in the UK. In spite of our addiction to online everything 75% of us still read just as much as we did 5 years ago. Proper books too. There is something about opening up a real book and turning the pages that is so different than an e-reader though I also read some things on that too.

In fact the so-called ‘demise of books’ is greatly exaggerated. More and more books are being published every year. Perhaps not by mainstream publishers (my publisher only takes 20 new titles a year) but certainly the self-publishing market is booming. There is a book for everyone and for everyone a book that suits them.

There are massive benefits to reading. Here are some great reasons and at my son’s school last week they even said that reading for just one hour a day improves academic results by up to 20%…

  1. Brain boost: Your brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, just like all muscles in your body. Reading has been found to enhance connectivity in the brain and keeps the brain engaged and active. Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power.
  2. Reduces stress: No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.
  3. Knowledge and learning:  Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face. Read to learn, to get curious, to find out more. I deliberately (ok, I know it’s not a book) read the New Yorker every week, precisely because it has long articles in it about subjects I know nothing about! It’s fabulous, insightful and interesting writing and engages my brain.

4. Strong analytical skills: Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine “whodunnit”.

That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well-written piece, if the characters were properly developed, if the storyline ran smoothly, etc.

5. Improved focus and concentration: In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task through every day. In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people (via gchat, skype, etc.), keeping an eye on twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. This type of ADD-like behaviour causes stress levels to rise, and lowers our productivity.

When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the story—the rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail you’re absorbing.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a book today, browse in a bookstore, buy a great book – and read!

Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work (i.e. on your morning commute, if you take public transit), and you’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

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