World Book Night was celebrated by bookworms around the globe on the 23rd of April. Reading is one of life’s great pleasures, and it has many benefits. It can reduce stress. In fact, research has found that reading for as little as six minutes is enough to reduce stress by two-thirds. Reading makes you a better person too. People who read a lot are said to be nicer and smarter.
Besides, they are more empathetic and have a greater capacity for what is called ‘theory of mind.’ This is the ability to hold opinions and beliefs that are not your own. Incidentally, it was ‘the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still function’ that the American novelist and author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, said was the test of a ‘first rate intelligence’.
In any case, the number of people reading is declining. In a survey of 2000 British adults, conducted by World Book Night, it was revealed that 67% would like to read more but that 48% are apparently too busy to read (incidentally,the average person in the UK finds three hours and fifty-one minutes a day to watch television). The cultural capital of reading is not lost on the British public though, with the same survey revealing that 41% of people will lie about what or how much they’re reading to impress others.
If you are one of the over two-thirds of Britons who would like to read more, there are a few ways of doing it. Reading more than one book at once may seem counter-intuitive and much more difficult than just reading one book, but it has been found to make it more likely that you’ll finish at least one of your books. Also, reading is a great way to create friendships and engage with people.
Joining a book club or just deciding that you and your partner will read the same book is another great way to motivate yourself. However, one of the most important things for being able to enjoy reading is having somewhere comfortable to do it. The underground or a bus is good but your own private study is better. If you want to create the perfect atmosphere for tackling War and Peace or Infinite Jest, here are a few tips on how to create the perfect study:
- Pick a room with lots of natural light. South facing rooms, preferably overlooking a garden, are best.
- You need somewhere luxurious to sit or lie down if that’s how you like to relax. A leather chesterfield sofa is great, but so is an armchair. Also make sure that whatever you choose offers you good lumbar support. Believe or not, you can injure yourself with a book and it is not just the threat of paper cuts.
- Get bookcases. As Cicero said, ‘a room without books is like a body without a soul.’
- Fill it with your favourite artwork. It is a place to be inspired and let your creativity flow.
- Get a desk. With all this reading, you may just want to write a novel or play of your own.
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