7 Underrated Benefits of Reading a Bit Every Day

Woman reading in red bed against yellow background painting by Christopher Clark

You know already the benefits of reading on your mind and body, how it makes us smarter and more empathetic, how it can increase creativity and all that. But there are a few other benefits to reading that are easy to overlook. Here’s why I think it’s good to pick up a book every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Makes us pause

We live in a culture that values activity, and the mind itself craves to do things all the time. But sometimes we do more not doing anything, just taking a break from all that activity.

We keep wanting to do things, and sometimes we get into trouble because of it. We hang out with the wrong people, we overbuy and overspend, we jump from one thing to the next, we take holidays that leave us more tired than we were before we packed our bags.

Taking a break from all that is good at least once in a while, and reading helps.

Readying is still a way to keep the mind busy, but at least it keeps our body in one place. It also tends to keep our mind focused on a topic or on someone else’s problems (fiction) rather than our own.

Reduces the risk of accidents

Road accidents, traveling accidents, sports accidents, animal accidents, accidents of most kinds, you name them. Staying home with a book is a pretty safe as far as recreational activities go, provided of course we don’t oversit, which is bad in itself.

Cuts back expenses

Having fun with a book tends to be cheaper than most other forms of entertainment. It may not be immediately stimulating, but with practice it’s fun in a quiet, soothing way.

Slows down time

All around us, technology speeds up time. The pace of life is faster than ever.

One moment we’re 20, the next we’re 25. We get a lot of things done, but do we stop often enough to contemplate them, to observe our habits, to savor our memories?

A good book can make the hours fly, it’s true. But the experience of reading itself slows our body and encourages a deeper appreciation of things. I find this to be particularly true of classics and other books set in the past.

Gives us a break from love woes and interpersonal relations

Other people are wonderful. But other people can also be a pain. A book is a way to be with other people without being with them, especially if the author happens to be dead. Books are social but without the disagreements and the disappointments.

I don’t find that books distances me from other people. The more I read, the more I like people because I become more aware of other perspectives than my own.

Pauses interruptions

In life everyone gets interrupted. In print, the text goes on and on, ideas, images, scenes keep flowing, even those we don’t agree with or that we question. When we read, we can observe and not take sides. We don’t have to interrupt and we don’t get interrupted either.

Slows down our breathing

Our breathing is one of the most wonderful things we have, and yet it’s easy to forget about it. When we read, we slow down our breathing, and becoming aware of it becomes easier. When we read, we stop breathing hurry and worry and disappointment and we breathe words.

Painting copyright: Christopher Clark

Reading for the Sake of Reading

Painting of a woman reading by an open door with flowers and greenery in the background

Reading opens a window into us through which we can see the world in a different light.

Continue reading “Reading for the Sake of Reading”

On Reading Every Day

woman reading in the evening in darkly lit room painting

Reading, not because we have to, but because we want to, is one of life’s pleasures.

Maybe you’ve noticed this too: people who read often live more deeply and are nicer to be with than those who quit reading after finishing school. Nihilistics excluded.

There are more things out there for us to read than there have ever been—books, ebooks, blog posts, articles, social media content, the list goes on.

But at the same time, reading isn’t the easiest thing to do. Not when social media, Netflix, or video games are only a device away. Not when we can do 999 other things instead.

Many activities look more fun than reading, especially when reading stops being a habit. Reading happens in our mind, not on a screen. It requires concentration, energy, patience.

For many of us, reading starts as something we are told to do at school.

It’s closely associated with the effort of assimilating information that comes with education.

Back in my school days, I hardly read anything.

It was more fun to play video games, watch sports, or play football with my friends.

The books they gave us to read at school weren’t fun. Or maybe it was the way they were presented and how we had to dissect them that took the magic out of them.

In my case, discovering the joy of reading was a personal journey that only began after distancing myself from public education.

My days now would be sadder without reading—I would feel not reading as a bothering physical sensation, a pebble in my shoe. Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but not much.

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.

Charles Baudelaire

As adults, many of us say we don’t have time to read—we got so many other things to do.

But reading is not something we need a lot of time for.

Often, we don’t even need to set aside time for reading.

We can read in between other activities: while waiting, while resting or relaxing, while preparing to go to sleep.

Most of us have a sense that reading is good for us—for our minds, as a way to relax, to acquire knowledge.

One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.

Carl Sagan

And yet we often don’t read as much as we’d like, either because we don’t have time or because we’re not in the mood. When we’re not in the mood, it’s usually to do with low mental energy or simply not being able to focus.

Having a reading list can inspire us to read more and keep us motivated to explore books beyond our current reading taste.

An ebook reader makes reading on the go easier. It also makes read at night easier on the eyes thanks to the built-in light.

Being in a reading group can also be a good idea, and there are plenty online.

Reading as a daily habit can have a wonderful effect on us, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

I mean reading for pleasure, what we want, without having to for school or work.

Whether it’s a story, a nonfiction book, or a how-to article, reading will make us venture off the daily rut of our habits into the great world of written text.

Word after word, sentence after sentence, our world will gain more depth, the horizons of our thinking will broaden, and we’ll discover new experiences, new possibilities.

Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.

Jeanette Winterson


How much do you get to read these days? Half an hour? More?