Why Reading Is So Good For You

People increasingly tell me they have a hard time starting a book, let alone finishing one. Reading a book takes time and concentration-two rarities of daily experience.

There are so many competing demands on attention. Who has the time to actually sit down and lose oneself in a book? In our busy lives, quick reads like news updates and snackable articles may be the only reading we have the energy and bandwidth for but don’t let this mindset get between you and a book during vacation. A great book can make a holiday even more memorable. You will always remember where you were when you read it. Take a favorite from the past or a new one someone you trust recommends or one that takes place where you are going.

Reading opens us up to the experiences of others and provides an escape from the echo chambers of our own minds. Studies suggest it might even build empathy by awakening awareness, broadening perspective, and expanding imagination. As author L.R Knost observed, “Humanly speaking, there is no greater teacher, no greater therapist, no greater healer of the soul, than a well-stocked library.”

A patient stopped reading fiction somewhere between her first and second child. Life got in the way. Scrolling replaced deep reading. She found her way back to novels after a friend insisted she take Anthony Doerr’s All the Light You Cannot See on a trip to France.  While sitting in a cafe, instead of picking up her phone, she would reach for her book. She said it enhanced her experience immeasurably and shielded her from tumbling down the rabbit hole of pointless scrolling, commenting, and liking. The vacation is long over but the joy of reading lingers. After putting the kids to bed, instead of turning on the television, she makes a habit of reading instead. She has found that reading a few pages is the perfect vacation for a restless mind.

I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman