World Book Day: The Power of Reading

I often reminisce of the days in primary school where I’d insist on reading a book a day - often reading on past my nine p.m bedtime.

However, pretty much as soon as secondary school hit, the joys of reading for pleasure were forgotten and the instant gratification which I could attain from social networking sites became much more appealing. Since then, with exams, schoolwork, family, health and somewhat of a social circle to maintain, it seems there is very little time to spare for pleasure reading.

But, what cannot be denied, is a powerful quote by W. Somerset Maugham, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” They say knowledge is power and such a statement couldn’t be truer. With numerous benefits of reading good books, I decided to look into how I can embrace the habit of reading once again and that is precisely what today’s article is dedicated to.

Reading encourages your mind to broaden in knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, learn more, curb anxieties and experience life from many different viewpoints which you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. The first step to help cultivate the habit of reading is, according to Lifehack, and backed by my own research, to set times during every day when you’ll read at least 5 to 10 minutes. For me, this is on my morning journeys into school. I’ve been reading during these journeys for about three weeks and the odd day that I have forgotten to pick out a book I’ve felt surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly) out of my depths and at a loss for knowing how to spend my time.

Just like any other habit, it’s all about routine.

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

- Samuel Johnson.

Every time you act in the same way, a specific part of the neuronal patterns in the brain are stimulated and strengthened in the brain. The more you perform an action, the less effort the behaviour will require as it becomes default pattern.

This leads onto the next step, which is to always carry a book on you. For many people today, everything is about efficiency. So, for those that love hard copy books, you may need to consider setting aside good reading environment to help you stay focused. On the other hand, if you prefer mobile apps, tablets, ebooks; invest in them!

To begin to fall in love with reading once more, it can be effective to reduce the level of television and/or internet usage. There have been a variety of studies showing the link between media and reading but one particular studied noted by researchgate is a project carried out in Bangladesh with 96 students. The evidence brought the vulnerable condition of reading habits into light.

The Department of Education’s key findings on reading for pleasure showed a positive link between reading and emotional and social consequences.

Nonetheless, growing numbers of people are not reading for pleasure.

Commitment, consistency and patience are the three fundamental character skills needed to become better in what you do and to improve daily. Right now you may have the motivation to get you started on your reading journey, but it is the habit which will keep you going. Get a reading partner, join book clubs and avoid being a solo ranger thinking you can achieve all your goals alone - no matter how small they are.

And on that note, happy reading!


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