Did you know 26th US President, Theodore Roosevelt, supposedly read a book a day while he was in office? Comparing old Teddy, an all-time great statesman who was amongst one of the most productive leaders of the free world in history, with the barely literate fella in office now and, well…
We place such a heavy importance on physical fitness. Eat well. Tighten that gut. Go to the gym. Are your biceps peaking? Get a good night’s rest. Do it again. But in a scarily prevalent trend, us twenty somethings have been woefully neglecting our mental fitness. Let me ask you a question. Why aren’t you reading?
I’m not talking about articles like this in your feed. I’m not talking about that essay your annoyed spouse has just texted your way which you also probably only skimmed (and by the way, it’s totally your fault). I’m talking about books. Cardboard bound, three hundred pages plus, with a picture of an author in the dust jacket books. Here’s why it could be the biggest mistake to not find time to read while you’re young.
Literal boosting of your intelligence
A no-brainer. Reading quite obviously expands your immediate world with a compendium of others. Additionally, this testing of your grey matter’s elasticity and ability also comes with an increase of empathy, everyday focus, and critical thinking while you grapple with some concepts. Abstract or regular-like. All traits that you might not be able to monetise right away, but will in fact help you achieve your goals. Goals that may include progressing in leaps and bounds career wise with that one radical idea you might slip to management, which eventually sees you arriving at that phat payday.
We all have our little methods. Maybe watching some TV. Flying a kite. Dressing your dog up as famous Broadway performers from the 60s to the mid-80s (just me?). With as much as a 68% reduction in stress, reading is one activity which like exercise, yields very tangible benefits from the outset. And arguably, you could milk way more entertainment value out of a book than a four-episode mini-series. Not a bad substitute for the old Netflix binge.
Bonus: trading a screen for some paper will also help you get to sleep.
No, I’m not suggesting you be that person in party that spouts off the list of things they are reading. But think of it this way. Who would you rather talk to? The person who you have to explain everything to, soften your words, struggles to find a relating point, and has a limited intellectual arsenal. Or the person who has been much more exposed to abstract concepts, provokes deeper ideas from something you’ve said, and has so much more to offer in return with every sentence. The mind is a sword. And by no means should you rock up to a duel with chipped and blunted edges, and rust all around the handle. Choose your weapon carefully.
Combats against late stage diseases like Alzheimer’s
Remember what I said about mental fitness? Well as it turns out, regular mental stimulation such as that found in reading meaty, meaty literature can help in combating against late stage diseases. Like Alzheimer’s. In a study conducted assessing factors that could prevent Alzheimer’s, individuals who played chess, dug into puzzles, and read were two and a half times less likely to develop the big A. So, once more for the cheap seats, reading is an investment in every sense of the word. An investment in yourself. Make the smart move, and crack open some David Foster Wallace.
For a list of suggestions to get you started, click here.