By Tran Duy Minh

As I often travel, I mostly read using my Kindle so I can move around with a lighter backpack. But I still love that feeling of reading a paper book. Once, I was doing a spiritual training course, and I was assigned some books from the library to read. I loved to take whatever I was reading to the park, sit on a bench with a cup of coffee and dive in.

I would read under the gentle shade of trees, devouring both the words and the pristine air, loving the pleasing smell from the paper of the book I held in my hand. The pages transported me to another country. Everything in the story seemed to happen around me as I mentally experienced what the author had written.

Yes, these bits of paper, without any energy, helped energise my mind. They transferred the spirit, courage, wisdom of the author, and the stories’ teachings to me. I wasn’t expecting that with a thing made from wood!

If like me, reading is one of your passions, you might enjoy some interesting things I have discovered about its benefits. Read on, my friend…

Exercise Your Brain 

The brain is an organ that needs to be taken care of to function well. Reading helps to exercise it, and it needs a workout just like your body requires one to stay in shape. Regularly diving into a book will help keep your brain function at its fullest capacity throughout your lifetime and may reduce illness when you get older. A study at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago pointed out that reading helps the brain remain healthy and to avoid the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in old age.

Be Entertained

Reading is an excellent form of entertainment; it can make you laugh, cry and take you on a journey mentally. As our imaginations are unlimited, a good book can let you travel to any place you wish. When you read books, their stories will transport you into a world within its pages. It takes you here, there and everywhere. As J.K. Rowling said, “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

Increase Your Empathy

In addition, reading helps you engage more with the people around you. Research shows that literary fiction can sharpen your ability to understand others’ emotions. Therefore, reading can help to improve your empathy,  make you better able to connect with and understand other people in your community.

The Difference Between On and Off-Screen Reading

It’s not only the type of literature but the method of reading that impacts the effects. There is a big difference between reading on paper and on-screen.

Research has found that people have different attitudes towards different kinds of media. When using computers, smartphones and tablets, we are less in a learning mindset than when we use printed methods. 

When you read on screen, you seem to go through everything so fast, but you don’t always comprehend what you have seen quite as well as with a printed version. One study proved that people who read on paper show higher comprehension levels than when reading on screen. 

Seeing the words, feeling the weight of the book and smelling the paper all stimulate your brain to experience the most immersive reading experience. You can actually FEEL a book more when you read the printed version, which helps your brain take it all on board. You also deal with information better when you engage multiple senses and stimulate more of the brain’s areas.

Sleep Better

In the hours before bedtime, relaxing with a paper book is also healthier than sticking with your smartphone. The light-emitting screens on electronic devices, such as your tablet, smartphone or laptop, produce blue light, which can influence your sleep when you use them at the wrong time of the day. 

Exposure to blue light at night can powerfully suppress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that affects circadian rhythms, which determine your sleep-wake cycle. As a result, it becomes more difficult to fall asleep after spending time with your eyes on screens. So grab a paper book as your companion before bedtime instead and have a better sleep.

I hope you are motivated to greater reading enjoyment and frequency with printed books, having seen how it can impact your life in so many ways. Make some quality reading time for yourself by turning off the screens and picking up a paper book to truly immerse yourself in the experience and benefit from it. Engage your senses, let your imagination and the words on the page take you places and find proper brain stimulation. Happy reading!