Reading: Fun way to give your brain a workout

By: Eman Sahloul

This is going to sound pretty elementary when you think about it, but I felt the need to bring it up after my renewed experience with it: reading. Yes, we all know how important reading was when we were in grade school, how it’s developed our vocabulary, how it broadened our imagination. Reading though seems to be only associated with that time in our life, to open a book now seems like a waste of time and brain energy. With all of the reading and time required for school, it’s almost foolish to consider opening up yet another book for the sake of pleasure, rather than grades. I was a total bookworm before entering college, and it wasn’t until Spring break that I realized I haven’t opened a book outside of class in four years. I felt like my brain couldn’t possibly hold any more unnecessary information, let alone carve out the time to just sit there and read at my leisure.

This Spring break though I was convinced by some friends to read the new hit trilogy “Divergent” before the movie came out last week. I must say, it’s not the best book I’ve read but it’s definitely an entertaining thriller. Anyway, I made a habit of waking up at 7:00 a.m., reading for two hours, and then starting my day. To my surprise, I found several changes in my studying abilities. After doing some research, I realized that reading does multitudes more than the simple reasons we’re taught about in elementary.

First off, reading helps you focus! For you out there who can’t seem to put your phone down when studying for Orgo, listen up. I believe we’re so easily distracted, not only because of technology, but also by the simple fact that what we’re reading doesn’t hold our attention long enough. If we temporarily shift our reading to something that we actually enjoy, closing Facebook and Twitter for an hour or two will be that much easier. By allowing that time for intense focus, our brains are trained to remain that way regardless of what we’re reading.

Secondly, reading helps with your memory. When you read a book, you’re storing new information into your memory. I used to think this was a bad thing, but really we’re just giving our brains a little workout, which makes our memories actually stronger. With each new memory, new synapses are formed, keeping our memories sharp and focused.

There you have it. Apart from the obvious benefits of reading like expanding vocabulary and imagination, reading truly can have a strong impact on the way you perform in school. Start out small with a book you really think you can enjoy, put your phone down, get a cup of hot chocolate, and take an adventure.