Reading is on everyone’s minds, even though a book seems far from everyone’s hands! In the age of ChatGPT and Instagram, reading seems awfully, woefully antiquated. Vestigial even!
But that’s so far from the truth. A million parents have asked me to tell their kids about reading. A thousand CEOs have asked me to talk with their teams on the reading habit, as they seek to foster a culture of lifelong learning in their organisations. What we must appreciate is that the benefits of reading are not necessarily intellectual alone. The other day, my son asked me if lawn tennis players would win 20+ grand slams in the future, like Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. I found myself saying, “they were the last of the pre-smart phone generation. This is possible in the future only if people keep their phones aside and start reading.” And he understood this in a very sage way; because he has experienced the power of reading for himself.
What, pray, is the power of a book?
1. If you have a problem in your life- any problem- chances are that the solution lies in the pages of a book.
2. Reading rids you of self-inflicted anxiety. People who wait nervously, for Whatsapp responses from others, are best advised to keep their phone aside and read a book. The Whatsapp will come if its meant to. Meanwhile, the reading keeps you occupied and diverts your attention. It may also kindle a spark of an idea.
3. As you read the words in a book, you create corresponding scenes in your mind. You are free convert the words into your own version of imagery. This develops your imagination.
4. Books make you connect the dots- you automatically link what you read in page 18 to what you read in page 88. This fosters logical thinking.
5. Books teach us patience- in the absence of a fast forward button, you learn the value of waiting for a plot to unfold or a lesson to be taught.
6. As you read and re-read, a book, you learn something completely different, each successive time.
7. Reading develops focus, concentration and the ability to stay in a ‘state’ for a long period of time.
8. Since the book does not talk back or wink back at you, the knowledge you receive is ‘distraction-free.’
9. A book is an incomparable motivational tool, bringing you as close to the idols you cherish, as possible.
10. Reading is the best way to pick up or improve upon a hobby.
11. Reading is a great way for families to share things with each other and for parents to engage in positive role-modelling.
12. Books help you express yourself better- giving you the words you need to share your point of view in the most accurate way possible.
13. Books are your link to history; the times past. They remind us of who we are and help us value our heritage. I could go on; but we promised you a pithy column! Think about it; there was a time when books cost money but the internet was free. Now most things worth reading are chargeable even online. Why not pick up a book? Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta is a columnist and bestselling biographer. She is credited with the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Experiment, a decadal six-nation study on how ‘culture impacts communication.’ On Twitter @OfficialReetaRG