“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one.”
The author of this saying, George R.R. Martin, who just so happens to be one of the biggest modern authors of fiction, perfectly encapsulated what reading brings to the table.
Still, some people hold their reservations and don’t feel like investing time into reading, wondering if it’s a good hobby.
Is there any scientific basis to this, though? And does reading make you smarter? These are the questions we’ll be answering today.
How Is Reading a Hobby?
By that strict definition, it is most definitely a hobby, because a hobby is an activity you do to relax and have fun.
The reason this question comes up stems from the evolution of new media. Given how accessible movies and television are, reading has taken a back seat in the entertainment industry.
However, if you hopped into a time machine and traveled sixty years into the past, when owning a TV wasn’t common and you could only see movies in cinemas, you’d notice that most people were reading for fun.
Be it books, magazines, comics, or something else – reading was a common activity.
It’s understandable that film and television have taken over because of how easy it is to drink up the content.
Reading requires active participation, while movies and TV shows don’t, but reading is still very much alive, and it is most definitely a hobby.
Is Reading a Good Hobby?
Reading is definitely a good hobby, and polarizing books and TV (saying one is bad and the other is good) is detrimental to both art forms, and art as a whole.
Unlike most other hobbies, reading allows you to completely disappear into a new world. This is a quality that we’re perhaps missing in the fast-paced, modern world.
If you’re interested in historical novels, you’ll learn about the ways and habits of our ancestors. If you’re interested in biographies, you’ll find amazing personal stories from some of the most successful people in history.
Most importantly, however, reading makes us feel good. Good stories leave us with something to take everywhere we go, not only in terms of knowledge, but also regarding the feeling of satisfaction you get when you finish a great story!
How Does Reading Boost Your Mood?
According to a 2009 study, reading for just half an hour a day reduces physiological symptoms of stress (both blood pressure and the heart rate drop), as well as subjective feelings of stress.
The students that participated in the study, who were attending health universities at the time, reported feeling much more relaxed after reading.
Reading has also greatly helped people dealing with depression, especially when it comes to reading fiction.
Fiction helps us escape our own, real world, which can be too much to handle sometimes, and lets us be in a world where everything’s okay.
Does Reading Make You Smarter?
Reading does not necessarily make you smarter.
What reading can do is improve brain strength. Because of heightened brain activity during the reading process, your brain remains more active, and your brain connectivity remains increased for a longer period after finishing a novel.
Another way reading improves your mental capabilities is by expanding your vocabulary. If you read a lot, you’ll come across a plethora of words that you’ve never seen before.
After all, language is a living thing, and it evolves constantly. It is a good exercise to pause your writing if you don’t know a word and look it up.
Finally, perhaps the most obvious way reading makes you more knowledgeable is by teaching you things you didn’t know before.
Personally, I was blown away by the novel Mila 18, written by Leon Uris, as it taught me things I didn’t know before about the Second World War and the Warsaw Ghetto.
This is the kind of thing you can experience when reading, especially if you’re interested in nonfiction novels, as they’re often based on reality.
Reading Makes You More Empathetic
A positive consequence of reading is a more developed sense of empathy.
This is, perhaps, a dimension that isn’t that well explored in movies (because of the runtime).
What Should You Read?
You should read anything – literally anything you want.
It doesn’t matter if you’re reading a novel, a comic book, a magazine, or an article on a niche you’re particularly interested in.
Reading is a limitless hobby and if you’re interested in the written word, there really is no set of rules saying what you should and shouldn’t read.
The Library Is the Way – A Summary
Reading most definitely has positive effects on your health and state of mind, while it also teaches you a few new things and allows you to escape the world for a little bit.
There’s no better place to start reading than the library. Personally, paper pages that you can feel turning under your fingers are more enjoyable to read than electronic books.
If you’re looking for a good way to relax – start reading; no one has ever lost anything by doing it.