Reading – why it matters

Reading matters, and yet it is one of the things that often gets unceremoniously dumped as life gets busy.

I can’t count the number of times that someone has told me – “I haven’t picked up a book for years”. 

I get it – life IS busy. But I wonder whether we have replaced our reading time with scrolling time or with Netflix time or with playing games time. It’s less about whether we have the time but how we choose to spend that time.

Here’s my list of why reading matters

  • Reading a book can put you in the shoes of another, which is the building block of empathy – one of the core skills of the future.
  • It can help reduce stress by transporting you to another world (if only briefly).
  • Reading can introduce you to new ideas and different perspectives. In today’s often polarised world of strident opinions – this is more important than ever.
  • These days we are often so scattered in our thinking. Reading requires that you concentrate, at least for a few minutes, which allows the brain to calm rather than having fifty browser pages open at once.
  • It’s exercise for your brain. The brain is a muscle. Like any other – it requires active stimulation, particularly as we age and are exposed to risk factors such as dementia.
  • Reading allows for shared conversations as you share your favourite (or most detested) book with others. It’s a form of connection, which is also increasingly necessary for mental well being.
  • And of course – for those that write, there are the benefits of better writing and increased vocabulary.
  • Many of the world’s more famous and well known people cite reading as one of the keys to their success.
  • There are plenty of studies that show a positive correlation between children’s academic progress and the reading environment at home (including books being around, and observing their parents reading).
  • It’s a cheap form of entertainment. Kindle often has free or .99c books for sale. Second hand book shops sell books for a fraction of the price.  Don’t forget your local library. And of course the internet is literally bursting with hundreds and thousands of articles, free ebooks and blog posts to read.
  • Reading can help make you a real expert in a particular field by having a depth of knowledge on a specific subject. It can also make you a more interesting person by having a wide breadth of knowledge on lots of different topics.

How to make it less hard

  • Read what you want to read and what interests you. It doesn’t have to be a hard hitting work where you need to reread each paragraph several times to make sense of it.
  • Whilst there is good evidence around the positive benefits of reading an actual physical book rather than a kindle version – do what you can do. If having kindle on your phone means you can spend the bus ride reading, why not do it.
  • It doesn’t need to be hours each day – even 5 minutes can make a difference.
  • I know that there are people who genuinely don’t love reading or who find it a chore not worth the energy. Sometimes audio books are a better solution – and still provide many of the same benefits.


  • If reading is something you’d like to do more of – what’s sucking your discretionary time at the moment? Can you go to bed fifteen minutes earlier to read? Can you put kindle on your phone to read during your commute to work?
  • Do you want to read for pleasure or for work?
  • Start small and go from there.



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