Reading is one of the least expensive and most accessible forms of entertainment, so why don’t many men read these days? One reason is because books are now competing against other forms of cheap and accessible entertainment. Books compete against music, YouTube videos, movies, TV shows, and other online distractions. And men, especially, tend to be more visually stimulated and more impatient with their entertainment choices. (How many of your friends would say that their favorite form of entertainment is reading?)
Reading is also time consuming. Back in my younger years, older folks complained that we were watching TV instead of reading. Today, it’s different. Young men find even television to be too time consuming. Fewer and fewer people are watching television because they’re catching their entertainment in smaller chunks on other devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. (Think about how many videos someone sent you that you decided not to watch because the video’s length was longer than three minutes.)
So why read?
Below are the five reasons men need to become avid readers. (You may have heard the first two reasons before, but the other three reasons for reading may be new to you.)
#1 – Reading enhances your vocabulary.
Imagine if you looked up the definition of every unfamiliar word you came across in your reading. Your diction would improve dramatically, and some of that newfound vocabulary would eventually find its way into your daily speech. In addition to building your vocabulary, reading gives you context on interesting words in the English language. Terms such as catch-22 or nymphet or quixotic suddenly take on deeper meaning when you know where they came from. Those words entered our everyday English speech due to novels that introduced them to us.
#2 – Reading actually strengthens your brain.
In the July 2013 issue of the academic journal Neurology, brain researchers found that people who regularly participate in cognitive activities (like reading) throughout their lives will have a considerably slower rate of memory decline in their elderly years compared to people who did not do any of these cognitive activities.
#3 – Reading adds depth to your character.
You become more well-rounded because you are expanding your thoughts, your diction, and your speech patterns by internalizing the words of other writers. Also the more fiction you read, the more empathetic you become because you’re exposing yourself to a more diverse group of characters with more diverse ways of thinking. These things carry over into your identity and your daily interactions with others.
#4 – Reading helps develop your patience and endurance.
This is my favorite reason for reading. Reading actually strengthens your stamina and mental fortitude by helping you avoid the trap of instant gratification. When you read a novel, you are entertaining yourself slowly. You take your time getting through a story, which reduces your stress levels, and it helps you practice building your concentration and mental work ethic.
#5 – Reading can lead to wisdom which makes you more attractive.
It’s simple. If you read books on new topics, then you’ll learn new information. That part is obvious. But here’s the thing: information is not the same thing as wisdom. For example, you probably have friends who know the dangers of smoking, but that doesn’t mean they are wise enough to quit. Having information about something doesn’t mean you’re automatically wise in that area. Here’s the three-step pathway to attractive wisdom. Step one: reading leads to the acquisition of knowledge. Step two: thinking about and discussing that knowledge leads to understanding. Step three: understanding that knowledge well enough to apply it to a real life situation leads to wisdom. People notice and are more attracted to a wise person compared to a knowledgeable person.
Be wise. Be a reader.