The Wellness Benefits of Reading & 8 Practical Tips to Get you Started

Epilogue

I found my passion for reading much later in life.

Sure, I have fond memories of my Dad telling us bedtime stories, the Greek Myths were the best, or when I discovered my favorite childhood book, “Matilda by Roald Dahl. However, during school, my love for reading was lackluster at best. Being bombarded with countless case studies and reading assignments made reading seem like a chore. Ugh. However, post school in the working world I discovered reading…

What came hand in hand with the fancy finance job were arduous hours, endless commutes, and heaps of stress. It was then that I started to read. Diving into a book gave me that one moment of peace in my day, helped me to de-stress, and in fact made me more pragmatic in my decision making. It was incredible…it was my sanctuary.

The Wellness Benefits to Reading

It turns out there are several benefits to reading in addition to de-stressing. Here’s the 411 on the perks…

  • Increases lifespan [1]
  • Increases memory
  • Diminishes risk of Alzheimer’s[2]
  • Reduces illness ~ physical & mental
  • Reduces stress & anxiety
  • Enhances sleep quality
  • Enhances creativity
  • Improves problem solving
  • Improves analytical, writing, & conversational skills
  • Expands vocabulary
  • Increases learning and knowledge of the world, people, or particular subject matter
  • Increases your perceptiveness when reading people & situations
  • Increases your empathy
  • And heck…low cost entertainment

Maybe one of these benefits piques your interest to consider opening up a book before bed tonight! If so, here are 8 practical tips to get you started…

8 Practical Tips to help you get Started

  1. Let it come naturally
  2. Start small ~ 10 min a night
  3. Best time to read ~ evenings/commute/lunch break
  • fiction — evening/relax time
  • non-fiction — daytime/alert time

4. Best way to get books ~ library *for free!

5. Best way to read ~ audiobooks

6. Best way to find a good book ~ Goodreads

7. Keep a book log ~ ‘notes’ app on phone

8. Join a book club ~ with friends/partner/online

1.Let it Come Naturally

Find a moment in your day/life where you would like to introduce some peace and calm i.e. commute to work, lunch break, before you go to bed etc.

Identify this time, and instead of scanning your instagram feed or checking emails just one more time, try reading. It may provide some beneficial peace and calm, rather than feed into further ‘busyness’/stress.

That said, IF you are in a phase of life where you have NO time i.e. school, just had a baby, fill in the blank…then don’t try to force yourself to create this new habit. Be kind to yourself and set an aspiration to circle back and give it a try a few months from now.

2. Start Small ~ 10 min a night

I would not advise going from cold turkey to a goal of reading a book a week. Set a timer and just do 10 mins of reading at a time/nightly. At first, you may wish that your alarm couldn’t come soon enough, but a few days in you might be surprised to find that when the ding goes, you actually want to keep on reading…at least until the end of the page, maybe till the end of the chapter!

3. Best Time to Read ~ Evenings/Commute/Lunch Break

I have found that on a commute, lunch break, or right before bed are some of the best times. It is a wonderful way to press the pause button on work, life, and daily stressors.

  • Fiction — if you are reading to relax, fiction is your way to go
  • Non-Fiction — good to read during the day when you’re alert, can engage in the material, take notes, and so on.

At times, I would be headed to bed hoping to decompress, and I would suddenly be in a frenzy taking notes of great ideas from the non-fiction book I was reading, and sleep was the last thing on my mind!

Best Time to Read?

4. Best Way to Get Books ~ Library *for free!

Yes, we have Amazon and audible at our fingertips which is awesome, but I would put a vote in for the wonderful public library!

I rediscovered the beauty of public libraries when I moved back to the States. They are phenomenal. You have access to a myriad of resources ~ books, movies, speaking events with esteemed authors, education and business courses online and in-person, free tax preparation, events for kids, I mean the list is exhaustive. And the best part, all of these resources are FREE! Yes, FREE!

Public libraries offer book apps now too, which give you instant access (no need to trek to the library). The app not only offer digital books and audiobooks but also movies and TV shows. Hoopla and Overdrive are the two most frequently used apps by libraries.

5. Best Way to ‘Read’ ~ Audiobooks

Audiobooks (from the above app on my phone/ipad/desktop) have been a game changer for me. The app/audiobook gives me more flexibility to listen to books during those in-between times i.e. commutes, between meetings or tasks, while you’re cooking or working out etc.

6. Best Way to Find a Good Book ~ Goodreads

Goodreads is an awesome resource to find a good book. You can search for books countless of ways — author, genre, time period, event and so on. I find this to be a very helpful reference for good books.

You can certainly check out ‘best of’ lists from The New York Times/Telegraph/folks like Bill Gates/publication of your choice.

If you find a good author, series, or genre — go with the flow and perhaps read a string of books from the same author. I’ve been in a love affair with Anita Shreves’ books recently!

7. Keep a Book Log ~ ‘notes’ app on phone

Keep a log of the books you have read and ones you want to read. My Grandmother taught me this. I remembered her laughing that sometimes she’d even forget books that she’d read or the exact story line. Although shocked at the time, I now muse that I have the same moments of blurring story lines/books I may or may not have read.

It is tremendously rewarding to look back on the list of books you’ve read over the years. (This goes out to A-type/achievement-oriented folks who love hitting goals.) It also allows you to reflect on books you’ve read, topics you’ve learned, stories that have provided insights into your life, advice that you’ve implemented.

It is also a wonderful list to share with friends/family during get-togethers or when you wonder into the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Union Square.

I keep the list on the notes app in my phone. Super simple. I just update it when I’ve finished a book. Normally with the name of the book, author, date I finished book, and then for fun give the book a rating of 1/10.

8. Join a Book Club ~ with friends/partner/online

If you’re more of a team sport kinda person then this is a great motivator to get you reading! Not to mention the added wellness benefits of sharing great experiences with friends/making new ones that a book club provide.

Ask your friends if they’d like to start a book club. You can keep it super easy and meet just 1x a month or quarter. If that might be too much coordination, having a book club with your partner or another family member in your house can be great fun. In addition, there are now several ‘virtual book clubs’ you can join with like-minded folks ~ Oprah and Reese Witherspoon’s are 2 rather fun ones. Oprah’s has a newsletter, Facebook group, and Goodreads group. Reese Witherspoon’s you can follow on her book club instagram account.

Book Recommendations

I didn’t think I could write an article all about reading without giving just a few book suggestions. That said, I think that it’s very subjective if a book will resonate with you. But here are some recent reads that I’d love to recommend in no particular order.

  • “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. One of the most fascinating walks through history from day 1 to present.
  • Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman. Most captivating book that is like a ‘Harry Potter’ for adults. It is addictingly nutty.
  • Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance. Provides a fascinating insight into middle America and the rise of Trump.
  • The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. A wonderful parable to help find your purpose.
  • The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. Female empowerment, love that can’t be, being true to one’s principles, and self-determination. This one is a biggie but so worth it.
  • Light on Snow” by Anita Shreve. Harrowing story of a deserted newborn, the father/daughter who find it close to death, and the reason the mother deserted her.
  • Stars are Fire” by Anita Shreve. Phenomenal female empowerment book of a Mum who saves the lives of her children after a devastating fire ravages her hometown, and the will to rebuild her life after the fact.

*For books to learn more about wellness…that is a whole other article. Email me and I can give you tailored recommendations.

Conclusion

So, armed with these benefits and tips…whip out a book from your bookshelves tonight to enjoy…think of it as an experiment… you can always decide later if it’s not a good moment, but I bet you won’t regret it!


I hope you enjoyed and found this article helpful. If you did perhaps share with a friend!

For more tips on wellness, follow me here on medium, on instagram @indiakooki, or you can email me directly.

Be well :)

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27471129

[2] https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/prevent-alzheimers-habits/

P.S. Hi all. I wanted to be sure to let you know, I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That said, any products I mention in my articles are ones that I love and use myself, and carry no bias.