Bill Gates reads a book per week. Warren buffet says he reads between 500 to 1000 pages per day. Studies of successful people show that there is one habit they nearly always have in common- they read. This however goes against the general trend in most modern countries, including Australia, that people are reading fewer books, and spending more time watching TV or online.

My interest in reading is not so much its effect on success, though there is a clear correlation, but its effect on the brain and on mental well-being. Reading requires much more effort than say watching videos. Reading requires the activation of multiple brain areas. Imaging scans show that when people read multiple areas of the frontal lobes, parietal lobes, temporal lobes and occipital lobes light up. You use most of your brain when reading, while there is very little activity when involved in passive entertainment such as TV or computers. Some activity continues long after you finish reading- memories are consolidated, and thoughts and images continue.

No wonder reading is associated with better memory, higher intelligence and reduced risk of alzheimer’s. Reading a book before bed is one of the best ways to reduce insomnia and improve sleep quality. The brain gets tired from reading, and gets refocused from stressfull thoughts. Reading is a simple and effective way to reduce stress and over thinking, by redirecting the mind away from daily stresses.

When I recommend reading, people often tell me that they have already read self-help books and they did not help. On further inquiry, they usually admit that they read a book a long time ago, can’t recall the name of it, and probably did not finish it.

People ask me which book they should read to solve their problems. There are great books that can help people deal with anxiety, depression, stress, relationship issues, grief, plumbing issues, dirty pets and historical conundrums. In fact, there are very few subjects, issues or problems which you cannot learn more about  through reading books, or watching you-tube.

I will often try and recommend a book most appropriate for a particular person and their particular issue.  Reading whoever is exercise for the mind. Like physical exercise it is an ongoing process. You don’t exercise a few times, reach your goal and stop exercise. Reading should be a lifetime habit and endeavour. Sometimes it can even become fun.

Learning should never stop, and it is never to late to  acquire and continue the habit of reading.