Once upon a time reading was just the natural thing to do ... we were encouraged to handle and to feel comfortable with the different books in our kindergarten .... and our parents or our grandparents or our teachers read books to us. From the age of 8, in Romania, we were supposed to be able to read by ourselves ... some did so at an even earlier age. What I am saying is that reading was ... just normal ... just like eating, going to school, playing ... just normal ... part of the fabric of our life from the earliest age.
Just like exercising, reading is a practice that improves the more you read... a practice that becomes a habit that stays with you for the rest of your life ....at least this is my strong belief.
Confucius said that " No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance". I agree with him, of course I do!
I grew up in a communist country where books were treasured and were obtained with sacrifices ... one had to queue for hours to buy a popular title ... for example Shogun ... I remember queuing for hours .......and not getting my hands on the book as the shop, as was not uncommon, ran out of stock in front in me. And old habits seem to become a part of life. I don't remember going into any of my friend's houses, then as a youngster or now as an adult, and not being confronted with rows of laden bookshelves - but then our generation grew up in a time when during the week we only had 2 hours of television a day and most of that was news or reports of great achievements!
Nowadays everything seems to require an explanation ... why we should eat more vegetables - because it will positively impact our health, why we should exercise for the same reason, why we should drink lots of water (the quantity varies depending on which "specialist" you listen to) because ... and so on .... So, it looks as if these days it is helpful to show why reading is good for us in order to motivate people to pick up a book. If you need that extra encouragement here is why ...
- reading is ... exercise for the mind. Just like our bodies, our mind needs to be exercised in order to keep fit, yes it does
- reading for 30 minutes a day flexes those mind muscles, it ignites your imagination, it makes you think, it energises your curiosity
- reading ... slows your heart rate, eases the tension in your muscles
- reading .... increases vocabulary, improves your use of grammar, nurtures creativity
- reading .....helps you express yourself with more confidence
And to really exercise the mind it's good to choose a diverse range of books to read from, various genres ....
It is true that for many, television is way more tempting nowadays, computers, smart phones and the rest the same - but the stories they tell are so short, short clip after short clip, it's like looking through an album full of holiday snaps, it's not the same as experiencing the holiday, the whole full story, because something that puts the whole holiday story into proper context is always missing. Sooner or later I believe we are going to pay a price for spending our time dipping into short clips of what is going on in the world ... our own sanity will be influenced by not seeing the whole story ... emotional, physical .......because 99% of life and living is not like the clip.
Groucho Marx was pretty spot on when he wrote .... "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book."