Just a quick review of an article from Asia Reader’s Digest “Why it pays to increase your word power” (Specktor, November 2017). Cannot agree enough but I find it more convincing if I add some of my personal experience here.
Specktor starts by saying that reading brings cognitive and mental benefits, as well as a longer life. Reading encourages both deep-reading and cognitive reserve. “Deep-reading” refers to the way one engages in critical thinking associated with the reading matter, whereas “cognitive reserve” suggests ways to help brain cells find a route around damaged areas. All these mean reading makes one smarter, and helps adapt to damage or delay brain diseases.
One may also find pleasure in reading, and have her/his emotional intelligence boosted. Adding to an increase in vocabulary, when one learns a foreign language through reading, s/he seeks gratification from being able to infer meanings of new words based on context and the co-text surrounding the text. Story readers are also found to be more empathetic. Such positive emotions can also lead to a healthier life, which may also mean a longer life — studies have shown that the ones who read 30 minutes a day may live 2 years longer than those reading just newspapers and magazines.
I aren’t sure whether I’ll live longer reading — I’ll know when I wake up tomorrow. But at least cognitively speaking, I’m quite often engaged in deep-reading. Reading this article is already one good example: it motivates me to summarise it as a practice, which is also what I ask my students to do. Also, because of this summary practice, I read faster to look for key information in a long text. In this way, I am actively engaged with the text, so that I constantly elaborate on the meaning of the text I read.
Of course, I get the instant gratification finishing this piece shortly after reading the article.