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I started reading for fun again: Here’s why you should too


By Raima Saha, Co-Opinion Editor

I used to read all the time: before bed, the moment I got up so I could squeeze in some reading time before school and during empty moments of my day. But somewhere between SAT prep and the start of junior year, I fell off the bandwagon and my voracious reader appetite faded.

It wasn’t until winter break when I was able to enjoy reading again, without looming due dates, tests and quizzes. I’ve managed to keep up with reading at least once everyday since winter break has ended, and I’ve realized how much reading benefits my life.

For starters, reading can increase intelligence. The Society for Research in Child Develop- ment, found in a 2014 study with identical twins that the twin with early reading skills was more likely to have higher intelligence by age 7 than the twin that did not. Exposure to vocabulary and different kinds of stories can improve writing skills and reading comprehension which can lead to better academic performance.

Reading can also have immeasurable benefits for your future self. A study conducted by professors from Case Western Reserve University found that reading can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Reading, like exercise for the body, challenges and activates the brain in different ways to maintain cognitive function, which slows down as we age and can lead to a longer and happier life.

Additionally, reading is a great stress reliever. A 2009 MindLab International study at the Uni- versity of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by 68% and was found more effective than taking a walk or listening to music, which reduced stress by 42% and 61%, respectively.

Psychologists believe this is due to the effort that is required to read, acting as a distraction that eases tensions in the muscles and heart. Since I’ve incorporated leisure reading back into my life again, I can attest to how calming it is to delve into a world that is not my own for a few minutes a day.

While it is true that we are already forced to read a lot as students, whether it is the textbook for science class or mandatory reading for English, these texts tend to be nonfiction, save for the few classics from the literary canon.

Reading specifically literary fiction can improve your empathy for others. According to David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, professors at The New School for Social Research, reading can improve “Theory of Mind,” which is the human capacity to understand other people’s desires and beliefs even if they might differ from your own.

While there are numerous benefits to reading nonfiction, we should not miss out on the other genres because they are just as important to enriching our minds.

We are constantly bombarded with entertainment, whether it is social media, video games and more. Reading may seem like one of the more archaic forms out there, but we should strive to find pleasure in reading for our current and future selves.

Raima Saha can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Raima Saha
Raima Saha, Co-Managing Editor
Raima Saha is a junior and the Co-Opinion Editor of The Spoke. She previously served as a Design Editor. In addition to writing for the Opinion section, she likes to cover stories that impact the community and draw cartoons for The Spoke. Outside of the newsroom, she is a member of the Conestoga girls’ squash team and is a PAL for Conestoga's Peer Mediation. You can find her reading a book or eating sushi in her spare time.