Enter stage reading a book. After a few seconds – Snap book shut
Oh, good evening Toastmasters! When did you last lose yourselves in a good book? I believe something rather magical happens when we get lost in a book. We not only lose ourselves within the pages, but we sometimes find a piece of ourselves too!
In recent times, I’ve been reading around 3 books a week. I’ve had to reduce this slightly as I was starting to get indigestion! My husband on the other hand, doesn’t read.
“But I don’t like reading Nikki!” he says. My response to this is, “but that would be like me saying I don’t like amateur theatre, without having seen a single show!” (My husband directs a lot of amateur theatre). He saw my point.
The last book he read was ‘Tarka the Otter’ at school, and he has never read a book since. But that is such a shame, since I don’t feel he has given it a fair chance. How can we decide if we truly like something or not if we haven’t fully explored it?
It seems he is not the only one to resist reading though.
Sadly, reading is on the decline and has been for the last two decades. It’s easy to understand why, with the introduction of internet and the distractions that this creates. I remember (many years ago), having to look up every piece of information or research within the covers of books when I was a teenager. My family owned a beautiful set of Encyclopaedia Britannica – beautiful black and red leather-bound books – which served for every piece of information I needed to find. There were, of course, libraries too. But in today’s world, things are very different. Everything is available at the click of a button; google gives us a world of information and even other people’s research.
Statistics show that only 21% of British people are avid readers like me, and 53% read one book or more a year. The difference between male and female is interesting too, since 21% of men claim, they never read as opposed to only 12% of women. I need to further research the reasons for this!
With children, sadly, it seems only 25.8% read for pleasure these days; they are more interested in gaming, social media, and suchlike.
But I would like to share with you a few reasons why reading can be of huge benefit to us; why we need to encourage our children, and our grandchildren to ditch their phones and pick up a book; why we adults need to made time to read on a regular basis and not just when lying by a pool on holiday once a year.
1) Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Consistency strengthens connections in the brain, this has been shown to improve memory and decision making. Each time we read, we create new neural pathways and studies show it can slow down conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
2) Stress Levels – reading switches our brain off, especially with fiction. Research shows that 30 minutes of reading lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humour do. It’s impossible to think about the stress in your life, whilst engrossed in a story. Bedtime reading, winds the brain down and stops us thinking about the day and the stresses of tomorrow. With consistency, the brain learns to sleep and sometimes we can even find solutions to our problems in what we read.
3) Knowledge – as well as increasing our vocabulary, we learn so much from reading… about stuff! I read a fiction book last year and discovered that bees can unhook their wings. Drones do this in the hive to vibrate at a high frequency and heat up the hive – fascinating! Building vocabulary and knowledge lead to confidence in your professional and personal life – just like Toastmasters! It is no coincidence that successful people are readers. ‘Readers are Leaders’.
4) Focus & Concentration - One of the worst things that technology has done is make us lazy. Almost everything is available with ease. We don’t even put an effort in to remembering things; simply putting a reminder on our mobile phones. 20 to 30 minutes can help you with better focus and concentration, which will also follow through into other areas of life.
So, to wrap up: from health benefits to getting smarter and building knowledge, I hope you have learnt a few reasons, why it is of great benefit to read on a regular basis. If you are someone, like my husband, who finds reading to be boring, I implore you to try different genres. There are so many out there, from dystopian, fantasy and romance, to memoir, mystery, and thriller. There is something for everyone and the wider you read, the more likely you are to find the genre or author that will hook you. Then, you too, will find the magic that I described at the beginning.
Thank you, toastmasters, now back to my book!
Walk off with head back in the book again!
Hi Nikki, this was a really fantastic speech and thank you from all the club for allowing us to publish the speech on the members site for everyone to enjoy. Particularly those who were unable to be there on the night. You are such a confident and capable speaker and an inspiration to many members of the club. We all look forward to your next speech, best wishes Carolyn.