For many students, reading is just a tedious assignment, a chore that can be bypassed through Sparknotes or Schmoop. However, literature offers countless benefits for personal as well as academic lives, and exploring the realms within the pages of a book can even be fun, as ludicrous as that may seem.
Just from a sustained habit of picking up a book, you can hone your ability to focus and improve in memory retention and overall intelligence, according to numerous studies. One particular study conducted by researchers at Stanford University demonstrates how reading Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park resulted in a notable increase in blood flow to various regions of the brain, exemplifying how reading requires multiple cognitive functions. Reading from a young age can fortify your vocabulary and knowledge base and enhance your analytical and critical thinking skills, which will prepare you more for higher level education than your non-reading peers.
Besides a productive exercise that can help with essay writing and educational discussions, reading also opens the mind and allows you to become more educated about not only the world but also yourself. With every work of literature comes a testimony of the history surrounding its creation. Exposure to a variety of genres, authors, and time periods is a rewarding way to learn more about the world and gain different perspectives.
Amy Kim, a senior at Valencia High School in Valencia, CA, spoke to JSR about reading literature: “What made me want to continue reading simply for the sake of reading is that I feel like books are the most honest indicators of the culture and history in the time periods they were written in. There’s something really pleasant about physically turning pages until you get to the end and close the book in your hands. When we’re not reading for multiple choice tests, you really find yourself enjoying what’s in front of you instead of stressing about what’s going to be on the next test.” Kim’s current favorite novels include It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad.
Katy Swiere, a senior at Orangefield High School in Orange, TX, also shared her reasons for loving literature.
“Reading has definitely made me into the person that I am. I grew up in a place where a lot of people acted the same and believed in the same things, so reading exposed me to a lot of different people and characters that had different mindsets and perspectives. It broke me out of my shell in a way I couldn’t do at home.”
“Learning to love reading is a huge part of becoming a successful student, and reading is a way for me to learn things on my own time. I don’t have to take a class or pay thousands for personal lessons; I can just go to a library and rent a book and learn about whatever I want. The possibilities are endless,” continued Swiere. She is currently reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.
A book is more than just an assignment. It is a portal into a new world, a workout for the brain, and a key to unlocking the mind’s potential to question, analyze, and learn. The next time you’re sitting home alone on an empty Saturday, consider opening up a novel and stepping into an adventure. It’s a lot of fun, I promise.