How Reading Can Change Your Life

Posted · 39 Comments

Reading can change your life.

“Speaking personally, you can have my gun, but you’ll take my book when you pry my cold, dead fingers off of the binding.” ~ Stephen King

Here are documented scientific reasons about the importance of reading, according to a seminar I once attended given by a neurologist who had been studying the brain for three decades (this is my layman’s understanding of what she said):

  • Reading requires your brain to be active, the neurons firing, and actually makes you smarter.
  • Reading causes dendrites (the part of the neuron where memories are stored) to form, improving your capacity for memory.
  • Reading, because it requires focus, improves your concentration.
  • Reading, when done for pleasure, reduces your stress & that is good for your overall health.
  • Reading, because it makes you think and apply what you’ve read, actually improves your reasoning skills.

Here are things I believe about reading:

  • Reading can teach you about your own self, you recognize yourself or who you’d like to be in the pages.
  • Reading can allow you to see what’s important to you by the kind of books you tend to choose.
  • Reading increases your own creativity, sometimes sparking other ideas in your life.
  • Reading can make you feel not so alone, especially a memoir of someone who’s been through the same thing you have.
  • Reading builds connections with other people, even if the only other person is that author.

Reading can change your life

I have a soft spot for author Stephen King because he was the biggest influence in pushing me toward being a fiction writer. When I was a kid, my family & I went on vacation up to a cabin in Maine. There was no running water, no electricity ~ “roughing it like the settlers” my dad said. Not great, though, for a 12-year-old girl. Under one of the bunk beds, I found a box full of Stephen King books & I spent those 2 weeks reading his early work, which is absolutely fantastic. I wanted to be able to do what King did ~ make people feel scared, angry, happy, whatever ~ just by telling them a story. The Long Walk by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) is among my favorite books ever. It’s one of the ones I read in that cabin years ago. It made me see the possibility of having a life as a fiction writer. It changed how I saw my future. It opened up possibilities for me. Reading can do the same for you.

What book changed your life? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.

39 Responses to "How Reading Can Change Your Life"
  1. J. R. Nova says:

    It’s great to hear someone else talk about how inspiring King is. He is a master of emotions!

    And reading ain’t bad either 😀

  2. I read a lot of Stephen King’s book in my teens. His book, On Writing, is one of the best I’ve read on the writing craft and his own personal story he shares is inspiring, too. Thanks for the post! You’re fabulous!

    xoxo

    KO

    • Hi lovely Katherine! Thank you for the fabulous compliment. You, too, are fabulous & if you ever forget, you just come ask me and I’ll remind you. 🙂 I agree his book, On Writing, is one of the best; I keep it nearby on the days when I need a pick-me-up.

  3. Sandy Coelho says:

    For me, it was the early works of Kipling (his short stories) and of Ana Sewell. My grandparents used to have a small library and I would tuck myself away in there for hours, and read until I fell asleep on top of the book I was reading! LOL I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and I wrote fantastic stories as a child – it was an escape, I never imagined it would set me on this path. I can no longer imagine not being where I am. Thanks again for sharing Shelli ?

    • Sandy Coelho says:

      I guess the ‘heart’ icon shows up as a question mark so xo to you!

    • Hi Sandy! *waves wildly* It’s amazing, isn’t it, how reading can set you on a path. I can’t imagine my life a different way either. Thanks so much for commenting. Cheers, darlin. 🙂

      • Sandy Coelho says:

        LOL I love it when I see an email with your blog title! It’s always the first one I open ;> I’m so glad you didn’t choose another path too! 😀 Have a wonderful week xx

        • You just made my evening, thanks so much for sharing that little tidbit with me ~ first one you open. Makes me smile. 🙂 You have a fabulous week, too. Cheers, darlin.

  4. On Writing by Stephen King is what did it for me. I’ve always enjoyed Stephen King’s fiction, but I think King’s non-fiction book On Writing is my favorite because of how he describes his own journey and his no B.S. approach to writing.

    Thanks for sharing another great post, Shelli.

    Cheers!

    • Hi Rob! *waves wildly* Yes, I LOVE the no B.S. books & On Writing is also one of my favorites (along with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird). You are fantastic, you know; thanks for the compliment. Cheers right back!

  5. Carl says:

    Without reading, I would have never known to search out Turkish Delight…

    Thanks CSL!

  6. For me it was DUNE. It was the first book that took me on a real, complex journey into another world and it made me think about my own life in a whole different way. Could not agree more with the research.

    By the way, I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award: http://brockheasley.com/2012/04/03/i-have-been-nominated-for-the-versatile-blogger-award/

    • Hi Brock! I haven’t read that book but I will add it to my (ridiculously long) TBR list. 🙂 Thanks so much for giving me an award! You, of course, ROCK!

  7. tomdharris says:

    Love the Stephen King quote and loving the changes to the site, great showcase for Small As A Mustard Seed, which is now 3rd on my to read list – hooray!
    There’s a couple of books that are close to my heart and came instantly to mind once I read this post. The Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl, as without this book and my obsession with wanting to climb into the pages and get inside, Boggis, Bunce and Bean’s storerooms, football and cricket would have just pushed reading aside, instead of them all being happy bedfellows of my youth. Then in a year out at Uniy I was working in a bar – not a busy place you understand – and I read Wilbur Smith’s Elephant Song. Customers walking into a quiet seaside pub and seeing a student barman crying his eyes out tend to walk out, so I had plenty of time to start writing. Strangely, it was the emotional pull of this book and the amazing plot of that inspirational movie Seven that made me put pen to paper on a crime thriller 16 years ago. It was awful, but it fuelled me to write. Nice blog post Shelli, as a YA writer, I have to dip into my younger memories a lot, but it’s amazing what’s lurking inside us all when the right trigger comes along. Always something great on here and it’s always so full of positivity. What a cool blog this is 🙂

    • Hi Tom! *waves wildly* Thanks so much for the fabulous compliments & for buying my book. You are fantastic & you made me smile. 🙂 You know, I haven’t read either of those books but will add them to my TBR list, especially Elephant Song. You know, too, it doesn’t matter how we start writing (how awful it might be, my first attempts were also); all that matters is that we do. I’m so glad that you started & continue writing. Thanks so much for sharing little bits of your life. Cheers!

  8. Paul Denni says:

    Hi Shelli, I just discovered you from reading Brock Heasley’s blog and I have to say I loved this post. 🙂 A life changing book for me was “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers. Loved his style, his honesty, and his creativity. It was just completely inspirational for me as a writer, and prompted me to write my first short story. 🙂

    • Hi Paul! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! Brock is fantastic. 🙂 You know, I’ve never read that book, but I will definitely add it to my TBR list as you’re not the first to recommend it. Glad to know, too, that it spurred you to write a story; that’s always encouraging. Cheers!

  9. Erin says:

    I don’t know if any one book changed my life. But, having been a lifelong bookworm, I’ve been fortunate to read many books (some for pleasure, some for school) that have fired my imagination, challenged me to open my mind, some have certainly helped me to feel less lonely.

  10. Alex Washoe says:

    Thanks for the great post, and the Stephen King quote. Two books that changed my life: “The Plague Dogs” by Richard Adams — not as well known as Watership Down, but for my money, the finest book about dogs ever written — and “Next of Kin” by Roger Fouts, about his experiences with the Chimpanzee Washoe. Changed the way I thought about people and animals forever.

    • Hi Alex! Thanks so much for the fab compliment & for 2 book suggestions as I’ve never heard of either one of them. I will add them to my TBR list. I LOVE that reading changed your thinking. Cheers!

  11. I really loved this post! The book that changed my life was Roald Dahl’s Matilda. It’s one of the first books I read on my own; my sister had just finished reading it so I picked it up after her. I was so enchanted by Matilda, and how she had this unquenchable thirst for books. And then, after the chapter where she learns about limericks on her first day of school, I decided to try my hand at writing a limerick. So with that one book I learned to love both reading and writing.

    • Hi Natalia! *waves* Thanks so much for the fab compliment and the great comment. I love this: “So with that one book I learned to love both reading and writing.” How fantastic is that? 🙂

  12. Lori P says:

    Thank you for the science quotes. Very interesting! The first time a book transported me outside myself was “Anne of Green Gables” in fourth grade. And the best present I ever got as a kid was a box filled with books. I felt like I’d won Publisher’s Clearinghouse. =)

    • Hi Lori! *waves* I just loved that there was science behind it. 🙂 This made me laugh: “I felt like I’d won Publisher’s Clearinghouse.” I’ve felt that way, too, when someone’s given me a box full of their old books.

  13. Michael says:

    My son (16 years old) is not much of a reader of Steven King, but I just had to get him to read “The Long Walk”. He loved it as I thought he would. It’s great that you’re a fan of it also.
    As a lover of books I find myself wanting to read so many. Now with my new Kindle I have over 400 books on it and as soon as I get done with one I am onto the next. The tough part is deciding which one. So when you say “I’ll have to add it to my TBR list” I know what you mean.
    Your book is now on my Kindle and will be read next.
    By the way, I love your blog, I have copied and pasted so many things off here to save in word docs. Thanks!

    • Hi Michael!

      Well, that’s a good problem to have: not knowing which book to choose. 🙂 Thanks so much for adding my book to your TBR list. I truly hope you enjoy the story. And thank you so much for the fabulous compliment about my blog. Made me smile this afternoon. Cheers!

  14. Love the post, Shelli! I, too, was influenced by Stephen King. It was “Misery” that made me realize the stories in my head were books I just had yet to write down, and made me want to be an author. Preferably one who wouldn’t end up in the same sort of predicament as the author in Misery. ;-D I can’t imagine life without reading fiction. It stimulates the imagination, gives us companions when we’re young and a little lonely, and lets us experience completely different lives through characters’ eyes.

    • Hi Nikki! *waves wildly*

      I LOVE this line: “the stories in my head were books I just had yet to write down.” I can’t imagine life without fiction either, without stories and other worlds to visit and characters to keep me company. Yes, let’s hope we don’t end up kidnapped by some crazed fan, although it did spur him to write another book. 😀

  15. Jemma Taylor says:

    I just hope that everyone appreciates books the way some of us do. Inspirational stories can truly change a life and make it better as it gives a message of hope to the one reading it.

  16. Emj says:

    Our teacher told us to look for a person who became successful because of reading and I’m glad I found you, your experiences in reading helps me a lot. Reading books made significant changes to our lives, that’s why I’ll always read. Thanks. Keep inspiring many people.

    • Hi Emj!

      It’s so true that reading can make huge changes for the better to our lives. I’m glad to hear that you’ll always read. Thanks for the fab compliment. Made me smile. 🙂

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