By Claire Buss
Curling up with a good book is something I love to do and the more I think about it, the more I feel that reading must be good for you. So, here are my top ten reasons why you should be reading:
- Reading is stimulating! Remember the last time you read a great book? It probably got your heart racing, or made you think differently about something. Perhaps it scared you, made you laugh or cry. Either way, it got your brain working out and that is always a good thing.
- It’s stress-free (unless you are the author on a deadline to write the story, of course). Reading takes you away from the stresses of daily life and helps you to relax.
- You learn things, probably without even realising it when you’re reading fiction. Your stimulated, stress-free brain is able to soak up little tidbits and share them later with other book lovers.
- Your vocabulary expands – strictly speaking, that comes under learning, but this is in addition to facts and such-like, so it gets its own bullet point. That stress-free, stimulated learning brain is acting like a sponge and the ability to articulate is a handy skill throughout your life.
- Reading a book isn’t just a matter of looking at groups of letters on a page. You’ve got to remember characters, plots, sub-plots, locations, descriptions made all the more complicated if you enjoy reading sci-fi and fantasy novels with their other-worldly names, a large cast and multiple books. It’s a great memory workout for that stimulated brain – looking good!
- The more you read, the better you become at critiquing, reviewing and discussing books with others. The more likely you are to write a review and the more an author loves you.
- It helps you focus. In our social media-fuelled world of hashtags and emojis, everyone can agree that news feeds – no matter the platform – run too fast to keep up with, and continually scrolling is a massive time waster. So, instead of losing focus and being distracted every five seconds by new posts and notifications, why not lose your concentration in a book and feed your beautiful brain?
- One of the most well-known maxims within the writing community is that to write you must read, and every writer I know is a huge reader too. These writers tend to devour their favourite genres and most will dabble in others too. You can’t write well if you’re not well-read.
- Inner peace. Well, maybe not if you’re reading gloriously dark horror or a terrifying thriller, but enjoyable reading can lead to tranquillity and calm in that happily stimulated, unstressed brain of yours.
- Free entertainment – well, mostly free. Love your local library and indulge your reading habit. Follow favourite authors, explore your genre and get free e-books from new writers. That’s right – we authors will give you free books to help keep your brain healthy and happy!
So, how else can we capitalise on the wonders of reading? By talking to someone else about them, and where better to do that than in a book club? I’ve been a member of the Northern Line book club for 12 years now, ever since I moved to London and, even though I’ve moved out of the city, I’m still a regular member.
My ‘go-to’ genre is fantasy and science-fiction in all their sub-genres, but the beauty of being a member of a book club is that it exposes me to so many other books and genres and really stretches my reading muscles.
I also belong to a specific science-fiction and fantasy book club on Goodreads, which is completely virtual, and I run a book club in my writing group Sparkly Badgers on Facebook, so it’s fair to say I’m an experienced book clubber. But, if you’ve never been a book club member before, why should you give it a try?
- Make new friends. Although you’re bound to be nervous the first time you meet, once you realise you are all there because you love books, the conversation will soon flow and you’ll find you have other things in common as well.
- Connect in a new way with old friends. Maybe you’ve lost touch with old friends, or just gradually drifted apart. Talking about a book together in a social setting will soon bring you back together again.
- It will make you read. This might sound a bit forceful to begin with, but often self-care activities, like taking time out to read for pleasure for yourself, are the first things to be axed when you’re busy and stressed. If you know you’ve got to read a book for book club then, hopefully, you will find the time.
- Not only will it make you read, but it will also encourage you to finish a book! Especially as you have a deadline to meet, albeit a ‘friendly’ one.
- You’ll start exploring new genres, different authors and maybe even non-fiction books. This is great for expanding your horizons and giving you more things to talk about with your book-minded friends.
- Reading gives you a break: from work, your partner, your kids and all those day-to-day stresses, helping you be you for a short time. Plus, physically going to a book club once a month is a social event that is just for you to enjoy. Especially if there’s tea and cake!
- It helps you stay in the loop. You’ll be amazed how many current books are read, reviewed and discussed by book clubs. They can often be the leaders in whether a book triumphs or fails. Reading books that everyone is talking about also lets you join in the conversation, making you feel confident about giving recommendations.
- Participate in stimulating conversations. Sometimes your partner or friend just doesn’t like to read, or doesn’t get the genre you adore, or maybe doesn’t want to discuss the geopolitical ramifications of using an Oxford comma! However, your book club members will want to do just that. More or less. The point is, you’ll be chatting about things that will spark your brain into action, making you feel alive and involved. This happiness can then spill over into other areas of your life.
- Be the hostess with the mostess. Some book clubs meet in cafes or libraries, while others are hosted at members’ houses and, of course, more recently, many are Zoom-based. All these things can sometimes be a cause for anxiety but, once you get to know all the book members and realise what a lovely crowd they are, then playing hostess (online or in person) might become something you really enjoy doing.
- It’s fun. You get to have some fun, which you rightly deserve and a little bit of fun in your life can go a very long way.
I hope you’ll consider joining a book club if you haven’t already. You can usually find details of your local book clubs at your library, your local Women’s Institute branch, or via websites like meetup. If there isn’t anything in your area, be brave and build your own!
The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Book Club on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/group/show/1865-scifi-and-fantasy-book-club
The Sparkly Badgers Writing Group on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/1720960814878512
Claire Buss is an award-winning multi-genre author and poet. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of marketing and administrative roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and expert procrastinator, Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect, setting her writing career in motion. Since then, Claire has published 17 novels and poetry collections and has had her short fiction published in six anthologies. The Gaia Effect won the Uncaged Book Reviews Raven Award for Favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel in 2017, and the first book in her humorous fantasy series, The Rose Thief, won in 2019. Working with Pen to Print, Claire delivers regular Book Surgeries, offering marketing help and advice to new and established authors. In 2019, Claire was part of the original team involved in creating and establishing Write On! Magazine and continues to support, work and promote the magazine in her role as Deputy Editor, a different kind of Lois who champions new writers and helps them share their creativity. Claire continues to write passionately and is hopelessly addicted to cake.
You can follow her on Twitter: @grasshopper2407, on Facebook: facebook.com/busswriter and visit her website www.clairebuss.co.uk for more information about Claire and her writing. All her books are available in eBook and paperback on Amazon at tinyurl.com/ClaireBussBooks
Reading is good for you - fact!