Is Reading a Hobby or a Necessity?

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What is a hobby

I believe most people would know what a hobby is but for the purposes of this article, I will go on and define what a hobby is.

The dictionary describes a hobby as an activity that is done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. Similarly, it is called a pastime.

So by definition, a hobby is done on your own time for your own enjoyment. There can be no regulation imposed on what activity you want to do on your own time. So it can be anything such as baking, collecting certain things, painting, or scrapbooking. It can also be exercise, sports activities, dancing, swimming, or sky-diving.

What can you get from a hobby

Why do people even have a hobby, what can be derived from having such an activity?

First and foremost, enjoyment. Like the proverb says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Second, it gives you something to do. When you get off from work, you are not expected to just stare into space, unless of course, you enjoy it.

Third, and here we go to the more serious reasons you can get from a hobby. It makes life, and you, a little more interesting. Having a hobby makes you look forward to something. And your experiences in your hobbies will be something worth sharing with other people who share your interest.

Fourth, hobbies can help you bond with other people. There are activities that need the participation of other people, for example, most sports activities such as basketball, volleyball or tennis. And there are activities that can be done on your own but would be better with others, like running, yoga or other exercises. While there are also solitary activities where the end result or products can be shared with others like photography, cooking, knitting, or gardening.

And fifth, you get to enrich your life with a hobby.

How to find a hobby

Some people may have a hard time finding a hobby. The question for them may be, how do I start? How do I find a hobby that is right for me?

And this question can only be answered by the person himself. But these steps may help to find your hobby:

First, find out what or where your interests lie.

Second, you may find yourself interested in various hobbies. In this case, make a list and then try each hobby to see if you really want to pursue them.

Third, stick with the hobby that makes you forget about time or your worries. One that makes you relax and drives the stress away.

If all else fails, just pick up reading.

Is reading considered a hobby?

People read for pleasure during their free time, so yes, by definition, reading is a hobby. But surely, a most enriching one.

Book lovers will have you know that reading may be the best hobby you picked up yet.

As expressed by Kathleen Norris:

“Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.

Is reading a necessity?

Why a reading hobby, you might still ask. Well, because reading is one of the best ways for people to learn.

Since humans are hard-wired to learn, reading, therefore, is a necessity.

Not to mention that reading is an inexpensive activity. Compared to golf, scuba diving, shopping, collecting expensive bags or shoes and the list goes on, reading is way cheaper.

Granted there is a minimal cost. The cost for the books, e-books, audiobooks, and yes, even the cost of Kindle or other electronic readers out there. But the benefits you will get from reading are way worth more than the money exchanged.

Why is reading books important

Learning new things is innate in each person and this curiosity can be best served by reading books.

With regular reading, in whatever format or means, comes learning, self-growth, and development which adds value to a person.

A person who keeps learning will have more opportunities in life, whether in their professional career, business, or personal life.

It is even more important nowadays for people to continue adding to their knowledge because of the fast pace of technology transition from old to new.

What happens if you read everyday

With the benefits of reading in mind, it is imperative that a habit for reading and a system around it should be developed. A daily reading habit will result in a brain that is more receptive to learning.

And a lot of other benefits such as the following:

Increase in IQ

Intelligence is the ability to accumulate facts and learn new things. Additionally, according to psychologist Raymond Cattell, intelligence is either “Fluid” or “Crystallized.”

“Fluid intelligence” is the ability to analyze new problems, understand things and see relevant patterns. This is through the use of general intellectual skills such as memory, analysis, or comprehension.

On the other hand, “crystallized intelligence” is the ability to apply skill and knowledge to familiar problems. This is the ability to use accumulated learnings and skills gained from education, experience, and daily activities.

Now, continuous reading is known to increase a person’s intelligence. Both the ” crystallized ” and “fluid” intelligence.

For example, reading will build your vocabulary, which is your “crystallized” intelligence. For “fluid” intelligence, reading increases comprehension and memory.

Rewiring of the brain

So with the above discussion, it can then be gleaned that the brain can also be rewired through reading.

And in a 2009 research on reading among children, it was found out that intense reading actually caused physical rewiring of the brain. This rewiring creates new white matter that is responsible for improved communication within the brain.

What does reading do to the brain

In a study done by Michael Skeide and his colleagues, they have recruited 30 Hindi-speaking adults in India with an average age of 31. 21 of them were taught to read and write and the remaining 9 were not taught anything.

After six months, the brains of those who were taught to read and write had shown remarkable changes.

These include increased brain activity in the cortex, the layer involved in learning. And changes in the regions of the brain that were not normally involved in reading, writing, or learning activities.

They noted that the thalamus and the brainstem appeared more active after the training. These regions are among other things known to connect information coming from our senses and our movements.

Significantly, after learning to read, these brain regions were found to have made stronger connections in the part of the brain involved in vision.

Memory Improvement

Another occurrence worth noting is the effect of regular reading on memory. With the increased activity during reading, the brain strengthens the existing synapses or connectors and also forms new ones.

The result is an improvement in a person’s memory.

Mood improvement

Additionally, reading is also a good way of combatting stress. Stress is a normal reaction which heightens a person’s abilities in preparation for fight or flight.

In short doses, stress is a good thing. But, exposure to stress for long periods of time, will have negative effects.

A stressed individual may become cranky, outright angry, or feel overwhelmed. If not addressed properly, it may lead to headaches, high blood pressure, low energy, or anxiety.

Since reading is a relaxing activity, it can help to cope with stress. Regular reading also provides the needed break for the body and mind to recover.

Improvement of mental health

Aside from these significant impacts that reading does on a person’s brain and mood. The effect on overall mental health is also note-worthy.

According to the Mental Health Foundation website, good mental health is characterized by a person’s ability to fulfill a number of key functions and activities, including the ability to

  • learn
  • feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
  • form and maintain good relationships with others
  • cope with and manage change and uncertainty.

All these functions can be developed or improved when a reading habit is established.

What type of book is best for the brain

There are a number of book genres and a lot more book titles for you to choose from.

But when establishing a reading habit, it may help to start with books that interest you. This will make the habit easier to do and follow.

Although there are a lot of “recommended” books out there that are good for the brain. The best recommendation is to just read.

To quote Maya Angelou:

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him.”

Once the habit is already in place and with continuous reading, you will know what will be best for you. You can then make your own reading list.

The natural progression will be to read more books that enhance you as a person. Read books that will inspire you. Books that will improve what you already know or build on the knowledge that you already have.

These books are in abundance and are easily accessible.

How long should you read each day

Again, if you are just starting to make reading a habit, it is best to start small. With this strategy, you will be able to keep going at a steady pace.

You can do it by the number of pages or by minutes. Start with something that you can easily do today, the next day, the following day, next week. Until such time that reading is just something that you just do every day.

The amount of time that you spend reading will also increase naturally.

Reading is more than just a hobby

With all the foregoing discussions, it is, therefore, safe to say that reading is more than just a hobby. It is a necessity. Reading will add value to ourselves- in our professional career, business, or personal life.

And to conclude this article, I leave you with a quote from Dr. Seuss:

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Outside links:

Fluid intelligence
Crystalized intelligence
Effect of reading in adults brain
Brain rewiring in children
How reading improves memory
Good mental health

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