Bonus Material: Knowledge Without Borders’ Top Ten Reasons to Read

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

In March, Marwan J. Al Sarkal, Deputy Head of the Organizing Committee of Knowledge Without Borders project in the UAE emirate of Sharjah (as described in today’s lead article) acknowledged, “Nowadays, we all spend so much time in front of our computer and TV screens that reading is dying as a pastime.” He added, “When people stop reading, with it goes language, vocabulary and comprehension skills; and basic skills like spelling and writing diminish. It’s clear therefore that reading can do a lot of good for everyone.”

Undaunted in his mission to get every family back into the habit of cracking a book, he offered ten reasons to read, as follows:

1: Reading is an active mental process. Unlike sitting in front of the TV, reading makes you use your brain. While reading, you will be forced to reason out many things which are unfamiliar to you. Through this process, the brain is exercised.

2: Improve your vocabulary. Remember in primary school when you learned how to infer the meaning of one word by reading the context of the other words in the sentence? You get the same benefit from reading. While reading books—especially challenging ones—you will find yourself exposed to many new words that you wouldn’t be otherwise in daily life.

3: Get a glimpse into other cultures and countries. How would you know about the lives of people in remote parts of Mexico if you don’t read about them? Reading gives you a unique insight into the diversity of different people, cultures, religions and societies around the globe—without actually having to step foot outside of your house.

4: Improve your concentration and focus. Reading requires that you focus on what you are reading for long periods. Unlike magazines, Internet posts or e-mails that might contain small chunks of information, books tell the whole story. Since you must concentrate in order to read, you can improve your concentration over time—just like how building a muscle takes repeated training.

5: Build self-esteem. The more you read, the more knowledgeable you become and with more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem—it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well read, people look to you for answers. Therefore your feelings about yourself improve.

6: Improve your memory. Many studies show if you don’t use your memory, you lose it. Crossword puzzles are an example of a word game that can help to stave off Alzheimer’s. Reading, although not a game, helps you stretch your memory muscles in a similar way. Reading requires remembering details, facts and figures and in literature: plot lines, themes and characters.

7: Improve your discipline. Making time to read is something we all know we should do, but who schedules book reading time every day? Very few… That’s why adding book reading to your daily schedule and sticking to it, improves discipline.

8: Improve your creativity. Reading about the diversity that exists in the world today and exposing yourself to new ideas and different information helps to develop the creative side of the brain, as it incorporates innovation into your thinking process.

9: You always have something to talk about. Have you ever found yourself in an embarrassing situation where you didn’t have anything new to talk about? Reading widens your horizon of information. You’ll always have something to talk about. You can discuss various plots in the novels you’ve read, your favorite authors, or concepts learned from business books—the possibilities for conversation are endless.

10: Reduce your boredom. When bored, pick up a book and soon you’ll find yourself sucked into a different world and entertained. Reading is a healthy and productive pastime, whether you are waiting in a queue at the bank or sitting on an airplane.

Can you add even more good reasons to his list? Let us know in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppbonus.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.