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

7 Things That Make Us Worse Writers

Woman writing painting loose brushstrokes by Giovanni Boldini

Some habits are worse for writers than others. Here’s what I mean…

Continue reading “7 Things That Make Us Worse Writers”

9 Things You Can Do on a Rainy Day at Home

coffee books and postcards on rainy windowsill

Something about the pattering of the rain on the rooftop, the dripping of the raindrops on the darkening windowpane, and the warm dryness inside that makes me not mind rainy weather at all.

Rainy days cast a spell on me. As a child, I remember watching from the balcony the linden tree outside our apartment rustle with thirst and feel the wind on my face, and a pleasant shiver would run down my back.

And if it’s a storm and the build-up to it catches me outside, all the better. The wind picking up speed, stirring the trees, making women’s hair flutter, warning people to hurry for cover, isn’t there something beautiful in nature’s shifting moods?

Appreciating rainy days can be an acquired taste too, like dark chocolate or blue-veined cheese.

If we look at the science bit, there’s a connection between rainy gray skies and mood. Rainy weather can affect our well-being. It can make us sad, sleepy, mess with our appetite, and even cause physical pain.

But I think that every rainy day is also an opportunity. There are so many things we can do on a rainy day spent at home….

1

Listen to the rain music on the rooftop and against the windowpane. Hear it not only with your ears but with your whole being. It’s such a wonderful sound. And it’s not sad at all—it’s the sound of trees and grass and earth slaking its thirst, the sound of dirt being washed away, the sound of rivers and lakes being renewed. If thunder plays the drums, all the better.

2

Or listen to sad music. Sad music can actually improve our mood when we’re down. There’s an exquisite pleasure in listening to sad music, a journey down the road of empathy, all the more so when it’s dark outside and raining.

3

Discover the simple pleasure of breathing. Find a dry spot and become aware of your breathing. Breathe in and out, in and out. If thoughts distract you, return to your breathing. Sit there for at least 10 minutes.

4

Start reading that book that you’ve always meant to read but never got around to. Or pick a book at random from your shelf and leaf through it. Be with a book the way you’d be with a close friend or with a lover.

5

Watch a classic black and white film. Ideas: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Roman Holiday, Bicycle Thieves, La Notte, or Schindler’s List. These films look and feel better on a rainy day.

6

Make yourself a cup of loose-leaf tea. Fill your teapot with a warm infusion and sip it slowly while looking out the window at the passersby with their umbrellas, the speeding cars, the empty pavement. It’s pleasant to be on the warmer side of a rainy window, isn’t it?

7

Write to someone or write a poem or an entry in your journal. Rainy days were made for trees and reading, don’t you agree?

8

Make a list of all the things you want to do once it clears. Committing plans and dreams to paper makes them more tangible. Plus, there’s a simple joy in making lists.

9

Don’t do anything at all. Be as wise as a cat on a rainy day—lie there doing nothing, but without letting boredom or desire to be somewhere else get in the way. Do nothing, not just with your mind, but with your whole being. Do nothing so you can rest and recharge for all the things you’ll be doing once it clears.


Do rainy days get you down? Or do they awake the writer/reader /artist/tea-maker in you?


Painting copyright the Art Hub, Memories by the Window