education

Five Reasons to Read Even Though It’s Hard

December 18, 2019

Reading is hard. No matter what age, the act of deciphering squiggles on a page or a screen is not intuitive and takes a lot of cognitive juice. It is not natural. Human beings have only been producing symbols to stand for the sounds of words for five thousand years, that’s about one quarter of one percent of the span of identifiably human beings on Earth. Just to read this much, your brain had to take several dozen snapshots (saccades). Once the images are sent from the eye to the brain, the brain has to put them together using its reference of images. We’re lucky we have brains instead of computers. The fastest computer in the world, the Tianhe-2 in China, operates a million billion calculations per second. That’s strictly remedial compared to the human brain which runs a billion billion calculations per second. If this was a race, the human brain would finish a calculation in one second that the world’s fastest computer would take forty minutes.

If reading is so hard, why do we bother? Why did Abraham Lincoln called reading, communicating thoughts from one mind to another through a medium, “the greatest invention of the world”?

Here’s why:

1) Reading will extend your life: According to a study by Yale University, book readers live an average of nearly two years more than non-readers.

2) Read and chill: According to several studies, reading six minutes a day can decrease stress levels by 68%. That’s better than listening to music (61 percent) or taking a walk (42 percent).

3) Reading improves thinking: The more active the brain, the more it can fight off dementia or Alzheimer’s. A recent article found that reading into old age can forestall mental degradation. Another study found that reading every day improves memory by 30%, more than any other mental activity.

4) Reading helps with the feelies. A report from Emory University found that reading strengthens the connectivity between the left (analytical) and right (creative) parts of the brain. It also improves our ability to sympathize and empathize with others, allowing us to see the world from different points of view.

5) Reading is sexy. For all of the above reasons, reading, especially novels and poetry, indicates intelligence, curiosity, communicativeness, open mindedness, confidence, higher self-esteem, and the ability to decipher something harder than words—emotions. Also, according to a coffee mug I saw in a book store, reading is sexy.

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