Growing up in the 90’s when not every household had a computer at home, kids either played outside or read. I did both. I played with my cousins and read. I read almanacs, encyclopedias, atlases, newspaper comics, and my Merriam-Webster Garfield dictionary.
I remember my almanac for kids. It’s where I learned about the first artificial satellite and first dog in space, Sputnik and Laika, respectively.
I remember reading our family’s 6″-thick, dog-eared encyclopedia filled with information I didn’t need as a kid.
I remember learning new words — and actually using them — from my Garfield dictionary comics.
I remember my dad getting home from work and handing me the newspaper which I’ll open to the comics section. Then, my dad, knowing I wanted to be a lawyer, would persuade me to “read the front page.”
I remember the glossy pages of our atlas with the basic greetings for each language: bonjour, hola, ciao! This atlas was the reason why I got interested (and pursued a degree) in Linguistics.
I studied in one of the top universities in the country, but I never considered myself as bright. I was an average student, but my friends thought I was smart — the intelligent type of smart. You know why they think I’m intelligent? It’s because I read.
Reading: Non-Fiction or Fiction?
I prefer reading non-fiction over fiction. Sure, I had book reports in high school, but I’ve forgotten about them. The only book report I remember doing was on The Giver by Lois Lowry. I also read Twilight in high school for fun, but didn’t finish the book series because my friend said the second book wasn’t interesting.
In college, I read Shakespeare, Animal Farm, Siddharta, but guess what? I’ve forgotten what the stories are about. I dislike reading non-fiction because once you read them… you’re done. But when you read non-fiction books, you can read them over and over again and still learn something new.
Yes, I read a lot of non-fiction. I remember buying Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at 22 years old. Fresh out of college. I must admit, it was quite the read. A few months later, when I became a teacher, the school directress handed me: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens — the book to be used for my grade 7 students in their English class. Reading the simplified version of the book made me understand and appreciate the concept more.
A year later, I switched jobs and entered the corporate world. During the new employee orientation, the facilitators gave each of us a copy of… guess what? 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. They then asked “Who knows about this book?” I raised my hand. I was the only one who did. A girl who looked shocked — and not in a impressed way — asked me “How do you know this book?”
You see, when I go to the mall, I always stop by the bookstore to check out the latest books in the “Non-Fiction” section. That’s why I know these kinds of books. If I have the money, I’ll buy it; if I don’t well, then I’ll come back some other time.
Without realizing it, reading shaped my life.
Reading Books Can Change Your Life
1. Reading improves brain functions.
As we grow older, our brain functions decline. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Reading keeps our brains agile and young, and can slow down cognitive decline.
2. Reading makes you a better person.
People tell me that I’m a good listener. I get random texts or calls from friends asking for advice — that’s how good of a listener I am. But I wouldn’t be like that if I hadn’t read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It taught me that socializing is not about you. It’s about the other person. Be interested in them and don’t toot your horn.
3. Reading makes you smart.
Not trying to be a poser here, but what I’m trying to say is that you don’t need to have an IQ of 130 to be smart. Reading is enough as it teaches you different things. When you read, you can about more value-adding topics with your friends and not just the latest gossip on social media.
4. Reading increases your vocabulary bank.
Not to brag, but I knew what “ambidextrous” and “nonagon” meant at a young age (around 8) that it shocked the older people I was with.
5. Reading gives you a different perspective in life.
My financial philosophy before was to save first and spend what is left, but it all changed when I read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Financial perspective was one thing because it also changed how I handled my health. You see, I have a chronic illness, which I’ll write about next time. Because of this illness my parents coddled me up until college, and I let them because I was scared, too. But reading Lissa Rankin’s Mind Over Medicine changed my life. It taught me to not solely depend on my medicines and instead balance the different areas in my life for healing. I may not be completely healed, but I’m definitely 90% better.
6. Reading allows you to meet great thinkers.
Darren Hardy, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, and Dale Carnegie are just some of the great thinkers I’ve met because of reading. I may not have met them in real life, but their books taught me a lot.
Literally speaking though, I met great thinkers in person because of reading. If I hadn’t read Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity, I wouldn’t have discovered Toastmasters Club; and if I didn’t discover Toastmasters, I wouldn’t have met growth-oriented but still fun lovin’ people — one of them is my accountability partner.
As a member of Entrepreneurs Book Club on Facebook, I met people across the world to discuss how the book of the month made an impact in our lives. Isn’t reading fun?
7. Reading improves your writing.
You don’t have to be a writer by profession to want to improve how you write. Writing is a skill present in any industry.
8. Reading makes your time more valuable.
Waiting in line or riding the train is an unnecessary waste of time, but reading makes time more valuable. Instead of waiting for your turn or stop, you can grab a book. It makes the wait more tolerable.
9. Reading inspires you to go for your goals.
Reading may be a source of inspiration, but execution still matters. There are tons of books that can help you build a system to achieve your goals. In my opinion, these are four essential books for goal setting and achievement.
In my own way, I want to encourage others to read more. Since I learned a lot from my Garfield dictionary, I gave my niece a copy two Christmases ago. Last year, I swayed her into watching (and eventually reading) Harry Potter. Reading has become a big part of my life. If I weren’t a reader, I may have wandered in life not knowing what to do.
If you’re a reader, how has reading changed your life? If you’re not a reader, are you encouraged to read more after reading this post?