The benefits of reading are both immediate and long-lasting

How I finally came to my "duh!" aha moment about reading for leisure, personal fulfillment and increased productivity

I have an admission to make: I have a love-hate relationship with reading.

As a professional writer, I read all the time—but mostly for work. So when it comes to reading for leisure and personal fulfillment, well, let’s just say I have remained unfulfilled for far too long.

Sadly, I have always viewed leisurely reading as a self-indulgent exercise. (Horrible, I know!) But it’s time for that to change.

Recently, I have begun to carve out a little time each day to read a chapter of a book—any book—that I actually want to read. And while I’m still early in my new routine, and I’m often tempted to fall off the wagon, I know the benefits of sticking with it are deep and long-lasting.

I realize that’s not news to you. Pew Research reports that 61% of Americans have a library card, and the National Reading Campaign of Canada reports (PDF) the same percentage among Canadians. It’s good to know that most people are not like me.

While I was always aware of the lasting benefits of reading—stronger vocabulary, deeper knowledge, etc.—I must say that I have been most surprised by the immediate benefits.

I have found that reading not only reduces my stress levels and makes me more empathetic towards my family, friends, colleagues and peers; it also makes me more productive, because it re-energizes my mind and helps me crystallize difficult topics that I otherwise struggled to wrap my head around—even when said topics are entirely unrelated to my leisurely reading material.

Perhaps Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel described the benefits of reading best when he said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

And with that, I’m off to read today’s chapter …

For more on the benefits of reading, check out the below infographic created for the National Reading Campaign of Canada.

Have you discovered any surprising benefits of reading? Please leave a comment below the graphic. We’d love to hear from you.


March 27, 2015
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