If you ask me, reading has always been cool. While other first graders were drawing, coloring, or playing video games, I was reading Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. As time went on, reading remained one of my favorite hobbies. To this day, reading is what I do before I go to sleep and on weekend mornings. Reading is how I relax and recharge.
It appears the world has started to find joy and peace in reading as well. Over 788 million copies of printed books were sold in the U.S. last year, making 2022 the second-highest sales year for printed books in the 21st century, right behind the record-setting year of 2021, when 843 million copies were sold. While the pandemic, the subsequent quarantine, and the drastic life changes in the last few years caused devastation in more ways than one, the book industry saw sales flourish. And I am all about focusing on the positives.
TikTok and celebrity book clubs like Reese’s Book Club have certainly been a huge part of the increased revenue in the book industry. BookTok, my favorite corner of TikTok, has romanticized reading with cozy clips featuring fireplaces, enchanting background music, and fuzzy blankets, a mug of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. After scrolling through BookTok, how could you NOT want to curl up with a good book?!
Benefits of Reading
Strengthens and Advances the Brain
While I love reality TV, look forward to the next season of Outer Banks, and scroll for way too long as much as the next person, this content is not necessarily known to advance the brain. Reading is a different story.
A team of researchers conducted a study with MRI scans that measured the effect reading a novel has on the brain. Over the course of 9 days, the participants of the study read the novel “Pompeii.” As the plot thickened in the story, more parts of the brain were ignited with activity. As brain activity and connectivity increased, researchers concluded that reading changes, strengthens, and advances the brain.
Improves the Capability to Empathize
To empathize is to be able to put yourself in others’ shoes. Research shows that those who enjoy literary fiction have an elevated ability to understand others’ feelings and beliefs. Many books are written from one character’s point of view. One really gets to know the ins and outs of this character’s brain and decision making process. The more books and different points of view you come into contact with, the more you build your empathy skills. The capability of understanding a different point of view is referred to as the “theory of mind” by researchers. This set of life skills is essential to forming, navigating, and maintaining social relationships.
Many studies have been conducted in regards to how reading lowers stress levels. Studies show that reading can lower your heart rate and ease muscle tension, even for just 6 minutes. Focusing on a book distracts the brain from stressful and anxious thoughts. However, in order to distract the brain from anxious thoughts, the book better be interesting!.
My Book Recommendations
As we’ve learned, there are countless benefits of reading, from strengthening the brain to reducing stress, so what are you waiting for? If you’re not sure where to start, these are a few of my top recommendations.
QBQ by John G. Miller
QBQ was the book we read for our first Seismic Book Club, and not only did it generate great discussion, but the book changed the way I think in all different types of work and life situations.
Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara
Written by a renowned player in the hospitality industry, this collection of stories shows how going above and beyond can truly take your role and/or company to the next level.
Other Nonfiction Books
The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
A life changing book I recommend to anyone and everyone. Exploring how history’s greatest have proven that viewing your obstacles in an empowering way can turn them into your greatest assets.
Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon
My only 5 star rating last year was Code Name Helene, an inspiring, true story about one of the most decorated women in WWII. A must-read that I highly recommend adding to the top of your list.
Lessen your screen time, increase your book time, and reap the benefits. Let us know your favorites!