I've read and loved books since I was a few years old. I read way too many things at once and I'll pick up a book in nearly any genre. I'm an English major and I fully intend to become a book editor and publisher. It's safe to say I'm a little crazy about reading. It's just my thing.

My love of books far surpasses the normal and expected level, and I'm fine with that. I don't expect everyone to be as intense about reading as I am, but I do strongly believe that everyone should read at least from time to time, in whatever format and style works for them.

Reading has benefited my life in so many ways, ever since I was a child. First and foremost, I love to read because I started young. As a very young kid, my parents read to me so much that I memorized books so I could read them to myself. Someone can start reading at any age, but I think my passion comes from a full lifetime spent loving stories.

Books have always had a power over me. When I read I could go anywhere and be anyone, and that was just about the coolest thing I could imagine. Words are captivating to me. I love movies and the visual way that they express stories, but books are so unique in that they present you with information, characters and ideas, but it's completely up to your own mind and imagination to interpret them. You can build worlds inside your head, just by reading a book. That's extremely powerful and it's the reason I'll never stop reading.

But why do I also think that everyone else should make some time for books in their life? There are also a multitude of proven benefits reading has to offer.

There are studies that suggest that not only does reading keep your mind sharp and active, but that it can also prevent or slow the progress of Alzheimer's and Dementia. Reading is a commonly recommended stress reliever, and I can attest to its ability to calm me down or help me relax.

Reading is also commonly considered an excellent way to expand your knowledge, make you more creative and expand vocabulary.

Other studies have shown that reading improves memory, focus and analytical skills, both in children and adults. It's also incredibly beneficial for learning a new language or becoming a better writer. I'd bet that every published author out there also loves to read; it's a natural connection.

Finally, reading can be a completely free hobby, if you want it to be. If you prefer not to buy books or can't afford to, libraries will always be free and they'll always be filled with books. There are also plenty of online resources that offer free downloads of reading materials. Little Free Libraries are popping up around the country, and friends who love reading are also usually willing to lend out books from their library. The resources for free reading are just about endless, which means money can never be an excuse not to read!

I can talk endlessly about all the reasons I love to read and all the ways it has changed my life, but I can only do so much. It's more important that you take some time and try to discover a way to include reading in your life. It doesn't matter if you're reading the biggest, most complex books. Finding what you like is far more important, no matter if it's poetry, graphic novels, memoirs, mysteries or classics. The benefits exist no matter what you're reading.