Thursday, 7 April 2016

The power of reading

Today I’d like to offer a friendly reminder that reading is incredibly valuable, especially if you’re a writer. You should be spending more time in libraries and bookshops, sitting in the sun with coffee (or tea if that’s your thing, or whisky if you’re like me), getting lost in a novel, finding paragraphs that resonate and characters you wish were real, in worlds you want to explore.


And this is coming from someone who struggles to prioritise reading. Yes, me. This post is as much for me as it is for whoever might be reading it.
Half the problem is that reading has the same effect on me as a sleeping pill might. Actually, that would be my first argument for why you should read more. If you struggle to get to sleep each night, just get into bed and read. It’s a really effective way to wind down (along with waking earlier, doing more in the day, consuming less sugar, etc. – but that’s a whole other topic)!
I would recommend, though, to avoid science before bed. Every time I read science books before bed my mind works harder trying to process the information. But definitely read science anyway.

Beyond sleepiness, there are other good reasons to read more, like learning.

You get to learn so many things. And the more you know, the better you can communicate. The less we know, the more mistakes we make. Knowledge is power. And personally I get really intrigued and impressed by anyone who has information to share, and that’s largely because I want to learn as well. Imagine what you could do with double the knowledge you have now. Imagine the people you could pass information onto, the people you might help, and the new perspectives you might gain. Others will listen to you, and everyone will be a little less ignorant at the end of the day.

When you read, you can broaden your knowledge on the geography of our Earth and the science of the stars. You can clarify a historical fact or gain a better understanding of the economy. You can delve into made-up worlds and discover their real-world influences. You can learn about the diversity of different cultures throughout the world and the many religions that humans have come up with. If you’re a writer, you’ll have a whole lot of valuable facts to draw from when it comes time to put pen to paper. But beyond that, you can learn new ways to write, new words to use, and new concepts to delve into. And let’s not forget all the grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. that will be drilled into you in the process. The learning is endless no matter which way you look at it, whether it’s through the content or the way you share that content.

I’m also going to take a moment to talk about my boyfriend, because he is essentially a walking talking encyclopaedia and a perfect example. Any time I want to know something about anything, I tend to ask him, because 95% of the time he actually has the answer. It’s awesome, but it’s not exactly a fluke. For one, he has this incredible ability to retain information better than most people (or better than I do at least).
But first and foremost, he takes the time to read things, even and especially the things most of us wouldn’t bother to glance at. Reading is a huge part of it. His house is scattered with books upon books, he won’t go anywhere without one, and he’ll basically read as he walks.

Now, I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t get it. I thought it was a bit excessive. But he is the most knowledgeable, well-spoken, and well-written person I’ve come across. And – this is the most intriguing part – he is one of the most moral people I know. As I was typing that, I mentally flicked through other moral people in my life, and two friends who came to mind are also both avid readers. This is not to say you aren’t a moral person if you don’t read. I just believe it is one of many factors that help. I believe there is a correlation between reading and just generally understanding the world and everything in it. Understanding often leads to acceptance and empathy.

Another reason to read, particularly if you’re a writer, is for inspiration.

Knowledge is power, as I’ve already stated. But knowledge is also inspiration. The more you have to say, the more you’ll want to say it. And if it isn’t the knowledge that inspires you, often it can be writing styles, word choices, and story concepts that inspire you. Every now and then I get a glimpse of an idea from someone else’s idea, and it makes me want to expand on it.
Reading enhances one’s ability to think and to write. I firmly believe that. But I want to make it very clear – you’re not a bad writer if you don’t read very much. You could be an incredible writer regardless. It isn’t all black and white.
But I think reading does a whole lot of good, and if you are looking for some inspiration or some way to develop your writing skills, reading is the first thing to do, especially if you’re struggling. Put the pen (or laptop) down and pick up a book. If the writer in you isn’t feeling it today, maybe the reader in you can take over for a bit.
And after that, the writer might wake up.

I loved reading as a kid, but as I got older I found other things to do. I figured if I had time to read, I had time to do more important things. In the last couple of years, though, I’ve rediscovered my love for reading. It was probably due to a combination of becoming an editor and just a general increase in my inquisitive side. Plus, you know, the boyfriend and all his books.
And I know now I’m better off for it. It’s particularly useful for me as an editor, in addition to the part of me that occasionally writes. Even if you are neither an editor nor a writer, I encourage you to consider the benefits of having more books in your life. Reading more inspires me to talk more, for example. It inspires me to speak up at times I never would have before, because now I know what to say. So if you're involved in politics, journalism, debating or public speaking, you will probably benefit from reading. And even if you're not involved in those things, your life will be richer for it anyway.

Reading is the first step in learning, finding inspiration, and communicating effectively. Also, don’t forget the winding down thing.

And if none of those reasons are convincing enough, here’s a relevant article with a few extra reasons and a little science to back me up:

If you're looking for editing or proofreading services, be sure to visit my website to check out the services and rates I offer. Thank you for reading!


  1. Awesome, Lorin ! I couldn't agree more with your sentiments - reading really does feed the mind and causes all kinds of spin-off ideas as a consequence. ABC's Jennifer Byrne presents a program,"The Book Club", and it so good! Check it out! (when you can get your head out of that latest book, that is)

    1. Thanks, Peter! I really appreciate the feedback.