If you do a search on the impact of reading, you'll come up with a dozen or so websites all telling you why reading is amazing. You'll find things such as: improves memory, reduces stress, provides mental stimulation, makes us more empathetic, etc. You'll even find books about the impact of reading. You might also find that there are more readers now than there have ever been.
But I'd like to dig deeper into your experience for a moment. How has reading changed you?
Good writing is compelling. It captures our attention, lets us slip away into an alternate universe where the story unfolds like a movie in our head. Even nonfiction should do this for us.
What are the best books you've read? What books have had the biggest impact on you? Why?
Why did those stories stick with you?
Stories speak to our hearts and minds simultaneously. That's why we gain a significant connection with them. They tell us things we didn't realize about ourselves. They invite us to look closer, and in so doing, we find ourselves.
There's a saying by Edmund Wilson, "No two persons ever read the same book." That's because we each bring our own impressions to the experience and gather information and impressions based on where we are in life and what links our minds make.
That saying is fascinating and completely true. We are all different, therefore our experiences are all different because of what they mean to us.
Books stick with you because of how they made you feel, what they made you think, and the truths that you uncover with their guidance.
Reading widens your horizons, teaching through text, and not just nonfiction. With the countless books, you can learn countless things. You can see the places you want to visit, learn the culture and society, as well as history, legends, and lore.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures."
Tim O'Brien said, "That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth."
Khaled Hosseini said, "Writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth."
You can find your truth through books. Truths about yourself that only you see that help you understand yourself. It's almost a spiritual experience. That's one of the greatest impacts of reading.
But there's more because there are the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of reading as well.
Like the articles of the impact of reading mention, Reading expands brain power.
We learn new words. We internalize information, gaining and supplementing our knowledge base.
We task our brains by creating links between the stories and life. In turn, this promotes healthy brain activity increasing memory, working the neurological bridges between information and retrieval, which causes us to think deeper.
Emotionally, we feel relaxed, balanced even with the uptake and settling of emotions which follow the plot (if the writing is done well). We connect on a spiritual and emotional level, practicing our empathy and relationship building.
Physically, the stressors are put at bay while our mind escapes, removing the outside influence and relaxing the muscles and nerves. We need this in our busy lives. Our bodies need a break.
Books are fantastic tools. They impact our lives in ways that other mediums can't quite reach, and most often, they leave us better than they found us.