When I was young, reading was an integral part of my daily routine and going to the library with my sister to check out books was a sacred ritual. Yet as I got older, that thirst for reading was drowned out by the pressures of school and social life. So when quarantine began, I was glad to find a positive side of constantly being at home: the chance to reconnect with books. This article will share reasons why you should read more actively, as well as how to establish a reading routine. At the end, I will share some of my personal book recommendations.
Benefits of Reading
Why should we read? Besides the obvious answer of being able to broaden knowledge and immerse oneself into a different world, reading has tremendous health benefits for people of all ages. For children, reading is a critical component of mental development and cognitive growth. Building social skills, memory, and vocabulary are just some of the benefits of reading. Reading regularly helps older students improve writing and comprehension skills that are necessary for standardized testing like the SAT critical reading portion. Furthermore, studies have shown that the mental stimulation provided by reading can improve brain function for senior adults, which can help prevent neural degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Establishing a Routine
Personally, committing to finish book has always been a struggle. Although I would start each book with brimming enthusiasm, that spark would always fade as I get distracted by social media and homework. However, establishing a set routine for reading can help build a strong habit of regular reading that is instilled.
- Get rid of distractions, especially devices, away. Effective reading requires concentration, and having your phone constantly ringing has been proven by researchers to be detrimental to cognitive performance.
- Make time. Set a specific portion of your day that is solely dedicated to reading. Whether it is in the morning, midday, or right before you go to bed, choose a time that works best for you and stick to it. Remember, consistency is key
- Keep a book log with the dates you start and finish the book. Logs are a great way to stay motivated as well as keeping track of your progress. Writing a short reflection after completing a book can also solidify your memory of the book.
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
As my first introduction to the marvel that is Mitch Albom’s storytelling, Tuesdays With Morrie is most certainly a book that has changed my life. The premise of this memoir is simple: Mitch Albom, who is the narrator, accounts his meetings with Morrie Schwartz, a former professor, who is dying from ALS. However, the simplicity in premise does not overshadow the profound messages that this book contains. As Morrie teaches the most important lessons in life – love and friendship – readers experience learning directly from Morrie himself through the eyes of Mitch Albom. Tear-jerking, hopeful, and inspirational all at once, Tuesdays with Morrie is a book that everyone must read at least once in their lifetime.
- The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis is famous for his religious themes in his novels, and The Screwtape Letters is no exception. However, there is more to the book than Christian theology; it is a clever depiction of the vulnerabilities of the human psyche. The book is written as a collection of fictional letters from the perspective of a senior demon writing to his rookie demon nephew who is trying to manipulate a human to turn away from God. Even for non-Christians, The Screwtape Letters provides an interesting outlook on the relationship between our external environment and our intrinsic desires.
- I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
Science literature is always tricky, yet Ed Yong masters the art of weaving together human stories with science research. I Contain Multitudes is all about microbiology – the study of microorganisms like bacteria and protists. The book breaks down the misconception of microbes being the “enemy,” instead revealing how microbes are so closely intertwined with humans. From breast milk, coral, and beetles, the vast breadth of microbial species is beautifully depicted in a comprehensible manner. Easily accessible by scientists and non-scientists alike, I Contain Multitudes is a perfect read for anyone who enjoys broadening their knowledge.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Maragaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel set in the future, where an extremist radical group overthrows the United States government and establishes a militaristic patriarchal society that is based on the New Testament of the Bible. Fertile women are rare and thus owned by high ranking male commanders as “handmaids” in order to reproduce. Narrated by handmaid Offred, the novel explores the depths of which an individual will go to preserve their own identity and freedom. Although chilling and disturbing at times, the Handmaid’s Tale is an insightful look into the extremes of religion, government, and misogyny.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
I am usually not enamored with books that I have to read for school. However, when I first read the Joy Luck Club for my English literature class, I was enraptured by Tan’s storytelling. A collection of vignettes centered around four mother-daughter pairs from Chinese- American families, the Joy Luck Club vividly illustrates the struggles and triumphs of immigrants. Even if you are not an immigrant, the inevitable conflict between parents and children who grow up in different environments is one that all audiences can relate to.
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