Just like all the muscles in our body, our brain also requires exercise in order to keep it active, focused, and healthy. So what’s one of the easiest ways of exercising our brain? The answer is reading.
To help us put together the benefits of reading, we asked 26 people to share their experience and why they made it a daily habit.
Let’s find out:
G. Brian Benson
Award-Winning & #1 Best-Selling Author of “Habits For Success – Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar” | Coach | Creative | TEDx Speaker | Radio Personality | Actor | 4x Ironman Triathlete
Books let your imagination come alive
“A library is a hospital for the mind.” – Anonymous
I think when someone said, “good things come in small packages,” they were definitely referring to books. Books are an incredible way to not only free your mind but also to fill it with knowledge, adventure, and inspiration at the same time.
There used to be a time where I would tell myself I was too busy to read or maybe even more accurately, wouldn’t give myself permission to read during the day because I felt that there were more important things to do.
But after witnessing a former girlfriend of mine who was an avid reader open up a book whenever she had a free moment, I cut myself some slack and began to really find the value in books.
I didn’t always need to be in “action” mode during the day and books helped me relax when I took short reading breaks. For me, it’s become another form of meditation.
While I do read some during the day, I especially like to read at the end of it. It’s a great way to refresh my system, rest my brain and calm my nerves before bedtime.
Growing up, I used to love to read children’s mystery books like The Hardy Boys series and Encyclopedia Brown. That morphed into tales of survival. I was always fascinated by those stories.
That is probably where I started to develop a love for history better than letting your imagination come alive as you bring a book to life in your mind. I have also always enjoyed a good biography. I find them interesting, educative and inspiring.
Pick up a book and get lost in it; nothing better than letting your imagination come alive as you bring a book to life in your mind.
You learn something new by reading books
I have practiced business law since 1985 but my daily reading has motivated me to get up each day, to learn something new, or lose myself in a well-told work of fiction.
I began reading (other than for work) as a law student, in the mid-1980s, to relax for sleep at night. (I often studied or worked until late in the evening.). Reading fiction, even if only for a few minutes, was my own “mini-vacation”. Today, my legal career is a stressful one. But I look forward to my daily reading break (typically on my train rides, preferably in the quiet car).
I also prefer traditional print books – I have been holding paper for too long to get the same benefit from an audiobook, or e-book. I am fortunate that our county library has a bookmobile stop near our home, with access to whatever I want through Interlibrary Loan.
In addition, our son – now 21 – has a developmental disability (Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, with hyperlexia). By reading books about advocating on his behalf, or by others with his disability, we have learned much to help him.
Related: Best Parenting Books
I have even been quoted in a few books and articles, about how he has overcome the challenges of his condition to graduate from community college with honors. Helping myself by reading has allowed me to help others.
When I read paperbacks to help me sleep all those years ago, I could never have anticipated how much my love of reading would enrich my life.
P.S. One of my oldest and happiest memories is when my mother walked with me to the newly opened branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia near our home, at age 5 or 6. I spent many hours there, starting a habit I enjoy to this day.
Reading reshapes the way you think
Reading is learning. As someone who sometimes reads as many as 50 books a year, and is constantly diving into new studies, analysis, and research, I credit reading with being one of the primary things that have shaped who I am today—not just as a writer, but as a human being.
Reading, more than almost anything else, has reshaped the way I think, on so many occasions, by exposing me to viewpoints I might have never considered, concepts I would’ve never known about, and voices who deserve to be heard.
Reading has shown me, over and over again, how much there is to learn about the world, and reading continues to prove itself as the greatest key to unlocking more answers.
Books have the ability to put us in the shoes of others
Reading has the capacity to increase understanding, compassion, and empathy. Read books by and about people you don’t normally encounter in daily life. Read books that make you uncomfortable. Read stories that don’t mirror your own life, or are even on the counter side of what you consider “the norm.”
We all have unique yet very tunnel-visioned experiences and lives that are shaped by our gender, our past, our ethnicity, our religion (or lack thereof), our language, where we live, and the people in our lives.
This doesn’t make our personal lives any more or less valid than anyone else’s, but what it does do is force us into a very singular type of thinking. Books have the ability to put us in the shoes of others.
Award-winning Author | Speaker
Reading helps you improve your craft
I’ve always had a vivid imagination, ever since I made up skits and stories with my stuffed animals as a tot. My parents read stories to me all the time, and I learned to read early. As a “low vision” child who could not read regular sized type, I read large print books from my public school and local libraries.
I remember reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach when I was about 7. It profoundly affected me. I related to Jonathan, so very different from “breakfast flock.” I was, and still, am, a misfit. Reading that book helped me realize I could celebrate this difference that makes me special.
When I learned about the National Library Service for the Blind, which produced audiobooks on tape back then and now in electronic formats, my world widened considerably. Gone were the limitations of the few classics, westerns, and gothic romances in large print. My love of reading skyrocketed.
I’ve always felt that reading broadens my horizons and expands my mind. I get to explore new worlds in fiction and learn new skills from nonfiction. Historical figures and interesting living people come to life in autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs.
But for me, the power of reading pushes me in my career. As an author of everything from poems to articles to novels to inspirational teachings, the power of words is always on my mind. I read a wide variety of genres.
I believe this helps me improve my craft as a writer and keep my mind supple. Reading is one of the abilities I cherish and use most, every single day of my life.
Author, The Art of SalesFu
Reading widens your knowledge base
On December 31st of 2015, I decided that I would become a daily reader. I would read 1 book every week for an entire year and see what happened. It’s the kind of habit that I had been thinking about for a decade or more but hadn’t made a reality yet. That New Year’s resolution was the perfect moment for me to gain momentum and create a reading habit.
I had just started a new blog and was anxious to have something to write about, giving a book review every week to my audience would force me to keep my word. At the end of the year, I realized that I had more books on my “to read” list than I did when I started the experiment and that I enjoyed reading more now than ever. The benefits were too much to give up. Since that first week of 2016, I have seen the amazing benefits of daily reading.
First, my knowledge base is exponentially wider. The first year of daily reading, I often read non-fiction books with similar topics of self-help, motivation and sales skills. While reading these books I began realizing I had forgotten most of the points from the prior book and was only reminded of them by reading something similar.
I now realize that I need to see an idea roughly 3 times before I’m ready to implement that into my own life. Previously, I would read a book once and then feel the rush to implement all of those ideas, only to run out of steam in a few days because the knowledge and know-how simply slipped away from me. I now have much greater retention and a much wider knowledge base to offer advice and coaching from.
Second, I find that my attention span has now increased. The ability to focus on a task for longer than 15 minutes at a time is a great benefit. As I was writing my blog posts I began to realize that I could write for an ever-increasing amount of time and my blog posts were longer and longer.
In 2016 I converted longer versions of my blog posts into a book and self-published it with great success. If I hadn’t had the increases attention span I doubt I would have had the patience to accomplish this.
Third, I gained confidence. I am not an extrovert by any means, but in addition to being an introvert, I was insecure about my knowledge and didn’t want to express opinions in the workplace that I didn’t know I could back up coherently.
By reading daily and discussing that journey I now know that I am an expert in my field. I have been able to take advantage of the knowledge of others and combine it with my own experiences to create meaningful opinions that I can articulate.
Artist | Writer
Reading enhances all aspects of your life
When you read – your brain connects with what you’re reading and can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction.
If you’re reading about traveling through Italy and what you can plan on experiencing – your brain is 100% along for the ride. Basically, you can, from the comfort of your own easy chair, travel, and experience anything your heart desires.
Reading introduces you to new cultures, new words, basically new everything. Daily readers retain more of what they read and continually expand their vocabulary and their view of the world!
Award-Winning Professional Speaker | Leadership Development Specialist
Reading advances your rational thinking
Technology will eventually mean the end of reading. That’s what they said. Exactly the opposite happened. Millions of e-books gave birth to familiar e-reading devices and guess what? Today more printed books are sold than ever. Mark Twain wisely remarked that a person who does not read good material is actually not better off than someone who cannot read at all.
Reading is like a trusted friend that accompanies you everywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer dog-eared printed books or flipping electronic pages. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” said W. Fusselman.
Daily reading presents an endless list of benefits. Here are three profound ones:
Reading points to our personal strengths and announces our weaknesses. It’s like having your own executive coach who never gets tired and is always ready to give advice. As you grow as a person, people will admire you for your knowledge. Your professional credibility will be solidified.
Over time, the printed letters on a page will transform into capability. Personal development will happen right in front of your eyes – no pun intended.
Understanding human nature better
People are complex beings who think and feel. Reading will bring context and comprehension to the table. Suddenly the struggles of others will become clearer.
Your insight will make you more sensitive towards people. Reading peels off the layers of human nature. Along the way, your sympathy will grow. You will start validating the feelings of those around you.
Enabling rational thinking
Reading stimulates the intellect and is surely a pathway to knowledge. Ignorance is an epidemic. Nothing reveals it more than some of the torturing comments we have to endure daily on social media.
Reading puts the lights on and makes common sense prevail. It will enable you to deal with life in a more objective and logical manner. Reading clears (or fills) the mind, advances rational thinking and ensures levelheadedness.
Keep on reading. The new perspectives and possibilities will astound you. As Mary Schmich said: “Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.”
Owner, Silver Fire Books
- Reading every day, no matter the genre stretches your imagination and allows you to dream. It opens your mind, helps you find your passions in life, and teaches you about the world.
- Reading provides an escape, but it also encourages you to take action in your own life.
- Reading shows you new perspectives and paints a more robust picture of parts of the world we may never get to see. In books, we experience moments we may never have the opportunity to encounter otherwise.
- Reading is a calming part of my morning routine. I pick up a book every day when I wake up, and it refreshes my mind for the rest of the day.
- Reading helps you wind down at night. You’ll sleep more restfully if you read before bed than if you spend time staring at a screen.
- Reading is an important aspect of self-care. Everyone needs a quiet moment to themselves, and escaping into a book is a perfect way to reduce stress.
Reading daily is a mental exercise
One of the biggest of reading is that you get to absorb decades of someone’s experience in a matter of hours. While you may not get the insight they got from living it or researching it, you will get much more than a few hours worth of knowledge and experience.
Its a shortcut to experiencing and learning things that you may not have time to pursue on your own but need/want to know. If you do it every day, you can learn a lot in any given field that can improve your life in different ways.
Another benefit to reading daily is a mental exercise. The brain is like a muscle and reading is one of the best exercises we can give it. I find that it keeps me sharp and has meditative effects when I seclude myself for reading time.
Founder & Owner, Premium Joy
Reading enables you to discover a wealth of information
I genuinely haven’t enjoyed reading until after starting to work, not on subjects related to the job, but rather on self-improvement.
Developing yourself is absolutely the vastest benefit of reading. People might say knowledge is power, but really applied knowledge is real power, especially when it’s related to self-growth.
It’s extremely enjoyable to read on stuff about personal development and utilizing what you learn in real life.
Through reading, I’ve discovered a wealth of information related to natural health which resulted in adjusting many habits like to eat only nourishing food, use supplements for healing instead of drugs, and practice regular meditation. All of these healthy practices have transformed my life including improved well-being and happiness.
I read every day without exception, though mostly not books, but online articles. It doesn’t really matter what you read (books, magazines, articles, courses) as long as you’re learning and benefiting from the information in real life, and becoming a better person.
Reading ebooks has led me to learn about the power of the human mind and how one’s actions are influenced by thoughts, it was intriguing and life-changing. What introduced me to that fascinating concept was specifically the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
Founder, Sustainable Slumber
A few years ago, I made a habit of reading every day and it has become a bright spot in my and a remarkable gift I have given myself. The benefits are manifold but these two come to mind first and foremost:
Reading makes me a more interesting, informed person. I often will read something about a topic that piques my interest and then, I end up reading everything I can about it. This is one of the great pleasures of my life, becoming a voracious consumer of knowledge and then, sharing it with people.
For example, a few years ago, I became interested in the topic of whales in captivity after seeing the movie “Black Fish”. I ended up reading thirty books on the topic of killer whales and can discuss the topic in-depth with anyone who is interested. It is much less black-and-white than I originally thought and have spent a lot of time thinking through it.
Reading takes me to interesting places while I am in the thick of raising kids, a difficult and often thankless phase of life.
Before I had children, my husband and I spent a lot of time traveling overseas, eating out in great restaurants and pursuing hobbies that were fun.
Now that we are in the thick of raising our kids, those things have taken a back seat. Reading allows me to travel to new places and experience new things all from the comfort of my home.
Reading is an example for my children. My children see me reading every evening when we are settling in for bed. If I were not reading, I imagine I would be scrolling on my phone or watching TV. My kids ask me about what I am reading, ask me for recommendations of what to read next and see that this is an enjoyable activity that doesn’t require a screen.
Senior Video Games Systems Designer | Co-Founder, Cafiend and Floof Corp.
Reading allows the cultivation of sound intuition
Reading in earnest actually started as a mistake for me. While I was in junior high, my parents’ friend once told me about an examination in junior college, which would test me on any subject under the sun. Being the overachiever that I was, I proceeded to read the Encyclopedia Britannica end to end.
Turns out I was wrong – The paper was General Paper and it tested general knowledge more along the lines of current affairs. Being a reader of comics and novels at the time, this exposure to new knowledge sparked my interest in learning, and I have not stopped since.
When I was working in Ubisoft Singapore, I had a 1.5-hour commute each way and plenty of time to read. I averaged a book every week or two, mostly business and finance related. This was probably the most educational period in life, giving me an improved understanding of how companies worked. This helped my work in monetization and systems design, aligning creative passions with business interest.
Reading is not only a gateway to new knowledge, but will also allow the cultivation of sound intuition. Intuition is not a fluffy concept. It is an aggregation of personal experience and knowledge acquired through learning channels like reading.
When you encounter a novel situation, your mind can tap into your pool of stored information and create a solution that can seem to come out of nowhere. In business, the ability to rapidly digest proposals and formulate solutions will make all the difference between a poorly considered response and making a real shine.
Steve Jobs said in The Lost Interview that taste was a product of experiencing the best things in life and integrating them with ideas from diverse areas. The products of good taste are inter-disciplinary and will generate the sort of visceral attraction that cannot be replicated with a straight carefully considered solution limited to a single field of knowledge.
Reading widely will give you the sort of diversity of thought to bring world-changing ideas to life, and I sincerely wish you all the best in your reading adventures.
Co-Founder, Spark Rental
Reading helps your brain relax and reset
I read novels, personal development books, and articles about my industry every day. The uses of industry news articles and updates about new marketing tactics are easy to understand – everyone must stay on top of changes in their industry, or risk obsolescence.
Today’s world changes faster than any in human history, so anyone in a competitive field needs to invest time in continuous learning. But continuous learning isn’t just about news and trends and new technology. It’s also about keeping your mind nimble and open so that you can adapt, evolve, grow.
When we get comfortable, we stop learning and growing, and that ceasing to read is a symptom to watch out for. I consume most of my fiction and personal development books in audiobook format while I’m working out, which both entertains me through my workout and exposes me to new ideas. Even the most escapist of fiction still helps your brain relax and reset, so you can get back to work refreshed and ready to focus again.
Stephanie Hammell, MBA
FinTech Entrepreneur | Investment Advisor, Provence Wealth
I can attest to how great reading has impacted my own life. I like to read before bed every night, whether it be a book or an interesting article that has caught my attention.
The benefits of reading books include the ability to expand your knowledge base on a wide range of topics while improving your vocabulary, so that in day to day conversations, you can speak more intelligently. People will take you more seriously, and you will be able to build off even more of the knowledge that you have already acquired. You have leveled up.
It’s helpful to read different types of books, whether in different categories or the same category by different authors because it helps expand perspective. This can be helpful in understanding different real-world situations. My favorite topics to read are on business, psychology, and self-development.
I have to say that reading psychology has more than helped me better understand my client’s needs in my business. By reading, it sparks thought, new ideas, and ultimately innovation that people can put into action in their lives.
Whenever we learn something new, our brain creates new neuropathways through our neurotransmitters. The more we read on a topic, we are strengthening the neurotransmitters relating to that subject in our brain, which in turn helps us think more about that topic and create new ideas relating to it. This is helpful for whatever topic we are reading, and it’s something that we can use in the workplace to innovate and create new ideas.
Unfortunately, it is impossible now to sit down with great minds like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Walt Disney, all of whom have passed away- however; books give us another avenue towards reaching these people, understanding their thought processes and what led them to get them to the positions they reached in their lives.
That is the biggest benefit I believe books give. The ability to be touched and transformed by other great minds from the comfort of your own home.
Owner, Opal Transcription Services
As a long-time reader of both fiction and non-fiction, I’ve learned that neither is superior to the other. Each has its own benefits.
I think the appeal of fiction is that it gives us permission to take a more passive role — kind of like going on a mental vacation. A good story has the power to rejuvenate us while filling our creative reserves for later use.
Non-fiction, on the other hand, teaches us specific, practical skills that we can put to immediate use in our careers or other aspects of life.
Both fiction and non-fiction help us become better writers. Most of us are writers in our daily lives: We write emails, text messages, social media updates, and so on. And when we read, whether fiction or non-fiction, we sharpen those communication skills, which translates to more success in our careers and relationships. So, whether you favor fiction or non-fiction, you really can’t lose.
Co-Founder, Milyin & TaskDream
Books make great things happen
What would have happened if Elon Musk didn’t read books? He started reading books from the age of 7 and now we can say he is a Rocket Scientist with a lot of knowledge even without a formal degree.
Books aspire great leaders. Even the Billionaires like those of Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos started out understanding schemes from reading books only.
Books happen to be the greatest source of knowledge, even in this technological world. Books provide us a way to understand things more clearly and make it’s deep and final analysis.
Books make us learn about the lives of different people. Shakespeare wrote his plays about 500 years ago and even now we read them. This is the power of words. Monuments built by great kings will not last as long the words written in a book will last.
One last thing is that books make our anxiety and the stress level low making us calm and more serene.
Reading sets us up for success
What would life be like without books?! I set aside at least 30 minutes to read every day. While my daily responsibilities as a CMO are often so demanding that I almost feel guilty for reading, taking time for personal development is crucial. If I’m not learning and growing, I’m stagnating. That is dangerous in my personal, as well as professional life.
I find that reading sets me up for success in so many different ways: books on mindfulness and meditation keep me calm and balance; business and marketing books keep my professional skills sharp, and good old fiction takes my mind off of a stressful day like no other.
Director, Fantasy Football Commissioner
When it comes to reading, I find it essential in my day to day life. There is a wide variety of benefits from picking up a book, a magazine even a newspaper. This is a list of my top 3 benefits.
Awareness – Reading a newspaper or a magazine ensures you are connected with the world and what is going on around you. Being aware of your surroundings is an important quality I find as you tend to pick up things others who don’t read miss. You tend to pay attention to the finer details.
Knowledge/Vocabulary – When I read I usually learn something new. Whether it is a new word, a new study, a different bit of history, anything really. This is great as it continually exercises my brain and expands my breadth of insights into various topics.
Well-being – A major benefit of reading for me is the well-being affects it has. Taking some time to myself to read a book, taking the moment to absorb what is written on the page allows me to forget about the stresses and issues going on in my life just for that moment to fully relax. The time I spend reading really assists me in coping day to day from little problems to disasters.
Business Development Manager, M&P International Freights
Reading is one of the easiest ways to gain knowledge and keep myself updated about the events happening in my industry. From reading industry-related news to learning more about how technology is affecting our industry, I feel that reading journals and online news sites has really helped me to stay relevant at work. I usually read during my commute to work, which not only helps to kill time productively, it also preps me mentally for the day ahead.
Also, being in the freight forwarding arena, it is a constant challenge to come up with fresh angles to target popular keywords. Reading has vastly broadened my expertise with regards to creativity and vocabulary expansion. I am now able to work closely with my digital marketing agency to brainstorm new article ideas to achieve our goals.
Apart from that, I find reading to be therapeutic as it allows me to escape from the craziness at work. I find myself having trouble sleeping at night, so I made it a point to put my electronic devices away and read for at least 30 minutes before going to bed. It could be sci-fi or self-help books – anything that keeps me captivated while helping me de-stress.
Related: Why Self Help Books are Good?
Authorized Distributor, Legend Age Lipsticks
Reading lets us think outside of the box
Despite my busy schedule, I make it a habit to read when I’m on my way to work and heading home from work.
Reading has allowed me to look at the world in a different light, think out of the box and also look at problems from different perspectives.
I am encouraged to think and picture the scenario based on my imagination. This has caused me to widen my horizons – something that I would never have been able to if I do not read enough. Being open to new perspectives and concepts has enabled me to not only look at one way to solve the issue but to think of multiple angles to tackle it.
Related: How to Be Open Minded (9 Examples)
In the context of my job as a salesperson, I am now able to think of the different possible reasons that customers would reject me and readily prepare myself to persuade them otherwise.
Being able to picture obstacles in advance has greatly helped me to become a more confident and convincing salesperson, and it’s all thanks to the exposure that reading has brought me.
Entrepreneur, Spark Innovation
When you read daily you become a seeker, a learner and an advocate for ideas and creativity. Reading every day has many benefits, but in my experience, there are 4 benefits that stand out:
- Reading allows your imagination to be activated.
- Reading helps build your writer’s muscle.
- You carry the wisdom of the ages.
- Reading can change your mood or mindset to help you move forward.
Donna Matthezing, RN
Founder, Compassionate Care In The Air
Reading increases your vocabulary and comprehension
Reading is a priority in my day and I do make a habit of reading in the morning. Reading every day increases your vocabulary and comprehension. I find that reading increases my confidence when in the company of strangers. Reading about new treatments or medications or trials is mandatory for my job so that I can be the best prepared that I can be for my patients.
The knowledge to validate procedures and treatments for my patients leaves them with confidence that I am aware of what I need to know for their safety. That empowers me to be the best I can be for my patients.
Also, there is no easier way to start a conversation with strangers than something amazing that you/or them have read and then be able to have dialogue around what was impactful or what didn’t work for you! Connecting with some common ground!
Keeping the mind active has been noted to ward off cognitive diseases such as dementia. Keeping “fantasy” present in your imagination – which we tend to lose as we age, keeps the “possibilities” of thinking outside of the box present. There is too much mediocrity in the world – reading allows you to venture into a new area, a new perspective, new adventures!
My ability to relate and connect with strangers over a book has made being with strangers a treat instead of a threat. I have read some books I never would have considered had it not been on the recommendation from a stranger.
Reading is like growing spiritually, emotionally and fundamentally.
Founder and Editor, Compose Click
Reading gives you new ideas for life and work
There are a lot of benefits I get out of reading every day, but here are the ones that I value the most:
It keeps me sharp mentally
The brain is a muscle and needs “exercise” just like any other. I find that reading is mentally stimulating and helps improve my focus on things even when I’m not reading. I also feel like I have the more mental stamina to get through work days when I read consistently.
I learn about the world
A lot of what I read is non-fiction history/political or fiction that deals with politics. I’ve learned a lot more about what goes on in the world through books than I ever have through the news media.
I sleep better at night
The routine I have now is to not look at my phone and read about an hour before bed. I’ve noticed this significantly shortens the amount of time that it takes me to get to sleep and my quality of sleep. Staring at a bright screen can signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up/stay up, so reading with a dim light helps with falling asleep faster.
Reading gives you new ideas for life and work. It gives you the inspiration that you can use in your daily life.
Director, Certa Hosting
Readers set goals when they sit in front of a good book. Whether it’s to determine the exact number of pages they would like to read in a sitting or how fast, readers always want to achieve something when they open a book. Successful people set goals for almost every part of life and work until they get it, just like readers do.
People are thinking about what they’ve read. Aside from getting a wider perspective, people thinking about reading often are taught some productivity lessons.
They are educated and informed. Readers have often used their time to learn. When they take a book in their hands, they don’t want to just read it, they want to draw lessons from it.