Editor’s note: this is part two of a series. Click here to see other posts in the series.
Sorry to sound like a high school English teacher on this one.
You probably saw this one coming. Reading often feels like a chore – school forces us to read and over-analyze books, often to the point where reading is not even fun anymore. And what’s funny is that school, at least in my experience, gets in the way of reading in our own time. In fact I hardly read at all during this school year. I started reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris last summer, and didn’t finish it until the end of this last semester. Okay, I admit some of that was actually my fault, but between classes and clubs, it’s hard to find the time to sit and read.
If you find yourself with lots of free time this summer, why not fill it with some good books? Here’s a few good reasons why:
The Benefits of Reading
1. Enlarges your vocabulary. Having a large vocabulary – besides being helpful for those philosophy papers (*grumble*) – has many benefits, one being that you will feel and appear more intelligent. The more you read, the more you are exposed to novel and interesting words. While you may not pull out a dictionary every time you find a word you don’t know (though that is a good habit), context clues can help you infer their meaning.
2. Improves your writing. Similar to the process of learning new words, exposing yourself to different writing styles will improve your own. It’s similar to how they say that watching basketball improves your game. Over time reading good writing will rub off on you.
3. Enhances your ability to empathize. Maybe it’s the horror movies, or the violent video games, or our inundation of world news, but as a generation were are more desensitized to other people’s emotions and experiences than ever before. Books give us the means to experience the lives of others, exposing us to different cultures and backgrounds. In a way, reading stories helps us understand and relate to the world around us. For more info on how fiction improves men’s capacity for empathy, check out this article over at The Art of Manliness on why men should read more fiction.
4. Provides inspiration. Okay. Confession time. As a kid, I was a huge fantasy/sci-fi junkie. I blasted through dozens of novels of that stuff. The characters were always courageous underdogs that against all odds overcame some great, often evil, adversity, and I found it fascinating to follow the characters’ journey. My absolute favorite was the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. To this day, Richard, the protagonist, models the kind of man I try to be.
5. Increases focus. Reading, in and of itself, is a mental exercise, requiring you to focus on a single task: following the story. It literally exercises our attention span, making it grow longer and longer. So if Facebook and Twitter have shred your attention span to pieces, maybe it’s time to pick up a book.
7. They’re pleasurable. Quite simply, books are fun. They whisk you away to different worlds, from Middle Earth of the Lord of the Rings, to the troubled life of The Catcher in the Rye‘s Holden, to the future-gone-awry in Orwell’s 1984. At the same time, they’re relaxing and stress-relieving, give us a space to let our imagination roam.
There you have it
Seven solid reasons to pick up a book or two this summer. If you need some suggestions, here’s some lists to get you started:
- Esquire’s 75 Books Every Man Should Read.
- Art of Manliness’ 100 Must Read Books For Men.
- Telegraph’s 100 Novels Everyone Should Read.
Not liking reading is no excuse. If you don’t like reading, you’re reading the wrong book. It doesn’t matter if it’s science-fiction, literature, or a drug store romance novel. Make the step today and set aside at least 30 minutes to read.
So brew up some tea, find a book, sink into the couch, and get lost in a great story.
*Here’s a tip: use your local library for free reading! They’ll have pretty much anything you can think of.
What are you reading this summer? Let us know in the comments!