I have. It’s frustrating, right? The thing is, we can’t force anybody to read. My eldest son is nearly 14 years old, and he’s stopped reading books.
While there are many reasons for this (the lure of video games or perceived nerdiness among his peer group) my heavy-handed attempts to get him reading again have failed.
His two younger siblings are strong readers. Both enjoy reading stories and being read to. My eldest used to be the same and I’m hoping once he leaves stubborn adolescence, he’ll return to the written word.
In the meantime, I’ve been dropping a few hints as to why reading fiction books is a worthwhile endeavour. Even if he’s not listening, I’ve jotted them down to share with you.
#1 Reading relieves stressAfter a long, hard day there are many ways to relax and unwind. Some are healthy and some not so healthy. Subject matter aside, escaping into a book is one of the safer choices to relieve some stress.
If you’re not convinced, then there are scientific studies on the subject. Alternatively, just pick up a book, light a candle and try it out for yourself!
“Reading to reduce stress involves choosing a genre you enjoy and taking a break from the regular hectic environment we often find ourselves in” - Cornerstone University
#2 Reading is funStep into a world of magic and monsters. Sail the high seas. Fly across worlds with your companions. The possibilities with fiction are endless. Worlds can be built with the widest of scope - there are no limitations imposed.
A good book makes you happier, brings joy and is a pleasurable experience. If it becomes a chore then put it back on the shelf and try another one. Reading good quality fiction is always an enjoyable experience.
#3 Open a book and open your mindStories expand the mind. They provide hope, inspire creativity, and tap in to the very wiring of our brain. A good book can expand your prospects and allow you to see the world in a new light.
When a well-written character comes to life, we can experience life in their shoes with the flick of a page. Who will they meet? What will they do? What can they achieve?
Maybe I can achieve that too…
#4 Learn lots of new words you never knew existedA basic one, but still true to this day. Expanding your vocabulary is a fantastic gift. Being able to express yourself clearly and concisely and call upon the right word at the right time is a valuable skill.
Whenever you read a new word that you don’t know, look it up in the dictionary or thesaurus. Don’t know how to pronounce it? There are plenty of online tools or YouTube videos to help you do that.
Here are a few words I’ve learned recently: anathema, progenitor, recalcitrant.
And a couple of fun ones from my childhood: collywobbles, malarkey, gubbins.
Do you already know these words? If not, you might want to grab a dictionary and look them up as well.
#5 Reading makes you a better person
OK, so finishing a 350-page novel isn’t going to help you ascend to greater moral heights, or instantly become the world’s most esteemed altruist, but…
Reading invokes empathy for the characters and their struggles. Put yourself into the shoes of a parent during a family bereavement, an innocent person on death row or a bomb disposal expert trying to work out which wire to cut. Suddenly you’re right there with them.
Gaining a new perspective on life, through the eyes of a fictional character, can be highly beneficial.
Now you know why I’m eager for my 14-year-old to start reading again. Preferably high-quality literature. But even a Spiderman comic would be a step in the right direction.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” — George R. R. Martin
Non-fiction books are useful and educational. However, there’s nothing quite like getting lost in a fantastic new world constructed by the words of a skilled writer.
Do you read enough fiction? What’s the best book you’ve read over the past 12 months? Let us know on Instagram.
(This blog was written by Steve Wellings, a voracious reader and an amazing human being)