January 24, 2022
Read: It’s What the Doctor Ordered | Your 2022 Reading Challenge
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” ‑ George R.R. Martin, American novelist
When someone asks you about your hobbies, does reading make the list? If not, it might be time to introduce a new pastime into your life. Not only is reading an inexpensive way to spend your time, but it’s good for the mind, body, and soul.
Exercise of the Mind
Joseph Addison, an English essayist in the early 1700s, said, “Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.” He may not have known it at the time, but 21st-century research would soon back up his remark.
According to healthline.com, a medical news website reviewed and validated by doctors, the benefits of reading are extensive. Current research indicates that reading stimulates your brain activity, so you’re essentially exercising your mind when you read. Stress, which contributes to about 60% of all human illnesses and diseases, can be reduced through reading; 30 minutes of reading can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress as effectively as yoga. Studies have even proven that reading can help seniors maintain and improve their cognitive functioning; lifelong readers are less likely to develop the brain abnormalities associated with dementia.
Young, impressionable brains greatly profit when reading is encouraged at home. Children can benefit from increased self-esteem, larger vocabularies, better communication skills, and more positive associations with books, increasing the likelihood that they’ll enjoy reading in the future. Additionally, the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics says that reading aloud to your child can boost their vocabulary by as many as 1.4 million words!
And if that doesn’t convince you that reading is good for you, a long-term health study found that those who read books lived two years longer than those who didn’t.
There’s a Book Out There for Everyone
The great part about reading? Whether you’re someone who prefers to dive into a fantasy world filled with adventure and romance or pick up an educational book that will teach you a new skill, there’s a book out there for you! If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few of Amazon’s Best Sellers:*
- Romance: It Ends with Us: A Novel by Colleen Hoover
- Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense: The Cipher by Isabella Maldonado
- Science Fiction & Fantasy: The Midnight Library: A Novel by Matt Haig
- Biographies & Memoirs: The Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan by Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller
- Self-Help: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
- Children’s Books: If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul
- Cookbooks: Half Baked Harvest Super Simple by Tieghan Gerard
- Humor: From Crook to Cook by Snoop Dogg
- History: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- Health: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
*Selected from Amazon’s Best Seller List, December 2, 2021; the list is updated hourly.
A Budget-Friendly Hobby
Reading can get costly if you’re not looking in the right places. The good news is we know a few hidden tricks for finding great books at a bargain.
Find books online from the comfort of your couch. There are plenty of websites that offer new and pre-owned books at a discount. A few of our favorites include abebooks.com, thriftbooks.com, and betterworldbooks.com.
Browse your local thrift shop! You’ll be surprised at how many award-winning books sit on the shelves of Goodwill for under $2. Plus, it’s common for people to read a book once then donate it, so the books you’ll find will often be like new. While you’re there, you can do your part by donating your gently-used books. If you’d prefer to buy brand new, check out the clearance section at Barnes and Noble. You can purchase never-been-used books for up to 75% off.
Hit up your local library. By taking this route, you won’t need to spend a dime. Of course, you’ll have to return the book eventually, but that will be the perfect opportunity for you to pick up the next novel on your list.
Check out your local bookstore. While it may not always be the least expensive option, it’s the best way to support local businesses right in your neighborhood. Thanks Shirley E (BetterLife Member) for your suggestion!
A Big Idea in a Little Box
Have you ever heard of Little Free Library? This nonprofit organization’s mission is “to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.” These “libraries” are small boxes displayed in front of businesses, houses, etc., that offer anyone the opportunity to take a book for free or donate one for someone else to read. As of December 2021, there are more than 100,000 Little Free Libraries across 100+ countries, sharing a total of 42 million books every year.
Now that you know how beneficial reading is, you’ve picked out the genre that fits your interests, and you’ve found a location to snag your next great read, it’s time to set some reading goals. Because we all read at different paces and levels, our 2022 reading challenge is for you to create your own reading goal! Here are a few ideas that can help make this year a literary one:
- Read a set number of books for the year.
- Read every book written by your favorite author.
- Read one book every month, switching up the genre each time.
- Read one book that’s been made into a movie each month, then watch the movie to compare.
- Read as many educational books on one topic as it takes for you to become an expert.
Once you’ve chosen a reading goal for the year, it’s important to put a plan in place to ensure you hit your target.
To start, put your goal in writing. You can do this by literally putting pen to paper, or you can add your goal into a virtual tracking app. Goodreads is a social network for book lovers where you can set reading goals for yourself, find out what your friends are reading, and get recommendations on what to read next.
Hold yourself accountable! Goal tracking apps like Goodreads are great for this. Or, if you’re someone who prefers to be held accountable by others, you can stop at the reference desk at your library to be directed to local book clubs.
Find what works for you. Don’t force reading on yourself. Instead, find a time of day that you know you can sit back and appreciate it. We’d suggest keeping a book next to your bed; you can avoid the harmful effects of watching TV in bed and take advantage of the natural lulling powers of reading. If you love the idea of books but don’t enjoy or aren’t great at the physical act of reading, try audiobooks! You can listen on your commute to work, on your afternoon walk, or during your daily workout.
Together, let’s make 2022 the year of the book.
Health is about more than just physical and mental well-being. It’s also about staying on top of your financial wellness. Contact us today, and we’ll help you determine if you have the proper protection in place to keep your loved ones safe. Or, use our handy life insurance calculator tool to find out how much life insurance is right for your situation.