Reading: The great escape

Maura Olson, Arts&Style Editor

Reading has been a form of entertainment for many centuries. Although there are individuals who believe that reading may not be the most entertaining activity, it has many positive effects on the brain. However, the benefits of reading are often neglected. According to the website Lifehack, the top 10 benefits of reading are mental stimulation, stress reduction, knowledge, vocabulary expansion, memory improvement, strong analytical skills, improved focus and concentration, better writing skills, tranquility and free entertainment.

“Reading is a vital skill,” head librarian Robyn Singletary said. “We educate ourselves to better understand our past, present and future world.”

In addition to stimulating the brain, reading can also serve as a form of relaxation in that it gives you a break from a busy environment and allows immersion into an alternate world.

“I love reading because I feel like it’s a relief from my busy lifestyle,” junior Noelle Hagy said. “[When I was] a kid, I hated reading, but my whole family really enjoyed it and encouraged me to explore it. As I got older, I started to appreciate the positive effects it has on my life.”

Some people are avid readers; however, others do not think of reading as an enjoyable activity.

“As a teacher, the most frequent excuse I hear is ‘I don’t have time‘,” English teacher Matthew Hendricks said. “I don’t think high school students can’t read, won’t read or hate reading by nature, I think that it’s a habit that has to be [acquired].”

Daily lives have become a major distraction as well. People have become so focused on what’s next on the list of things to do that reading for fun, and relaxation has made its way to the bottom of the to-do list or not there at all.

“We live in a very hectic and distracting society,” Singletary said. “We are challenged to do better for ourselves- so we go to better schools, take rigorous classes, play sports, keep a presence on social media, maintain relationships and then we relax.”

Efforts to promote pleasure reading have been on the rise in recent years in school and in society as a whole. One of these efforts is the increased popularity of audiobooks, which are more accessible to the average person during a busy day.

Audiobooks have helped to make reading easier to fit in,” Singletary said.We listen while driving, exercising, shopping, bathing- pretty much when and wherever we can multitask it in.”

Even though picking up a book and beginning to read is easier said than done, the process all starts with finding the right book. The community provides multiple libraries that make this process even easier.

Start with what you love- a favorite TV show or series, a movie, a book you read in elementary or middle school, something a friend recommended, a favored video game, [a topic] that interested you from a class or a real life circumstance that is giving you a reason to wonder,” Singletary said.

According to the website WritersWrite, some of the most popular genres are romance, suspense, thriller and horror.

“Typically, I’ll recommend books that have a twist or shocking ending because I’ve found that those are the kinds of books that I enjoy talking about and debating with friends,” Hagy said.

Reading can promote a more creative and relaxing lifestyle that provides a break from our technology filled and busy lives.

“We live our lives in 142 characters or less,” Singletary said. “Books require more characters; they require a commitment.”