I've always been a bookworm, dating all the way back to the "Magic Tree House" and "A Series of Unfortunate Events." I would easily finish at least 50 books every year, but then I suddenly stopped. However, at the end of 2016, I made the decision to read at least one book every two weeks for an entire year. Initially, this seemed like an ambitious task because it meant that I would have to read at least 26 books while still balancing the rest of my life. But, after finishing the first few books, I got back into the bookworm rhythm I had previously lost.
Over the past three years, I have read close to 120 books, which far surpassed the goal I set for myself. I read both fiction and nonfiction books from virtually every genre and I realized that this relatively new habit is slowly changing my life.
1. It has increased my knowledge and expanded my world view.
This seems like a fairly obvious statement to make, but it is something I have definitely noticed, particularly with the number of nonfiction books I've read. I've read books on the cosmos, finding meaning in suffering, the history of the Periodic Table of Elements, historical figures, the evolution of humanity, the importance of existing in the now, and many more that I can't even begin to list.
But each one has served a critical role in growing my foundation of knowledge, developing my worldview, and exposing me to areas I was never previously aware of. I've been exposed to different cultures, religions, and perspectives through the books I've chosen to read. Reading such a vast number of books allows me to systematically add to what I know and learn something new every day, which is amazing.
2. I have gained more confidence and created new relationships.
Reading transformed into a platform on which my awkward, introverted self could stand upon — my "soapbox" if you will. It has allowed me to connect with people and come out of my shell through engaging in conversations, exploring new passions, and recommending books to others. By sharing a book or its knowledge, I am sharing a part of myself, which creates connections and understanding between myself and others.
3. There are noticeable improvements in my vocabulary.
Let's be real, reading over 5,000 pages of complex narratives and intricate details written by George R.R. Martin ("Game of Thrones" genius) is bound to improve your vocabulary eventually. But I think the biggest improvement stems from the fact that my brain experiences a barrage of words on a daily basis through reading, which strengthens and develops my vocabulary.
4. I found a new way of dealing with my anxiety.
I have realized that reading can serve as an escape for me. Opening a book opens the door to a new world, a world where I can find relief from the heart palpitations, clammy hands, twisting stomach, and suffocation caused by my anxious mind. Reading can help me distract myself from the stress that goes along with being a college student and the anxiety that goes along with being me.
5. My self-discipline has been strengthened.
Seriously, finding time to read can be hard work. As a college student, there are so many things on my plate ranging from classes and clubs to exercising and maintaining a social life. My self-discipline and commitment to this reading habit have definitely been tested and I've spent many a late night attempting to catch up on my reading for the day, but after three years I still believe this habit is one of the best things in my life.
6. I have recognized the wealth of knowledge that is available and ready to be explored.
There is essentially an endless collection of books that are waiting to be read. There are books containing humor, wisdom, motivation, facts, new worlds, and even self-help advice. Starting this habit of reading has made me even more excited about the potential for growth that awaits within the pages of each of the books I have yet to explore.
7. I appreciate books for the artistic masterpieces they are.
If you really sit down and think about it, books are art. The way that authors can use words to create fantastical worlds (like Westeros), tell stories of courage and hardship, recall historical events, or even explain something in a new way is absolutely beyond magical. Authors are true geniuses and their work deserves to be recognized and appreciated as art in one of its finest forms. Starting this habit has given me a greater appreciation for the ingenuity and pure talent authors possess, while also allowing me to view the books I've read in an artistic light.
The decision I made in 2016 to commit to reading more was one of the best choices I made for myself and has positively changed my life. I can't wait to continue this habit and allow it to transform me and my life in the future.
If you have free time in the future, try picking up a book because who knows, one book could turn into a series of books that may change your life, just like they changed mine.