I want to start this article by saying I really enjoy going to Waterstones or other book shops, such as Topping & Company Booksellers , and looking at the books. I find books very interesting, and it is a lovely experience to browse and choose those I would like to buy and read. I like books in their traditional form but inevitably one day I will probably buy a kindle because I like to have at least one book in my handbag and a kindle is much lighter. I regard myself as old-fashioned by my love of “real” books but in this modern world which demands sustainability by using less paper, and the necessity to be a light traveller, a kindle is the option. My friend Lynette also told me that with kindles or other digital book-readers it is possible to have many books in different styles and languages, with a built-in dictionary, and with prices that can be less expensive than the paper version.
Finding time to read it is not easy these days. With great pleasure I have been participating for some months in the Book Group from Esol Fife and I love that. We have read A Woman’s Courage , and a week ago we finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time . The next book for our group will be The New Wife. The English in these books contains many idiomatic phrases and I have taken my time to learn some. What a thrill it is to hear my English-speaking friends use some of these phrases that I now understand!
Reading in English sometimes can be time-consuming because if English isn’t your mother tongue you will need to dedicate yourself to vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and nuances….. But why is reading important? Here are my thoughts – maybe you will agree or have a different view!
Improving your English: Starting to read in English can be frustrating when you need to continuously check in the dictionary for vocabulary and expressions and you can’t advance very fast. But, if you persist, you will soon see that you are using the dictionary less and less. You will understand faster, and you will enjoy reading much more as well as really learning a lot of English phrases!
I like to take my time to check words and expression in the Cambridge Dictionary & Thesaurus and I use the options for English-Spanish or Spanish-English. Rarely, when I can’t find the meaning straight away, I search in Google or my husband patiently explains the meaning and the context, (but I do the same for him to improve his Spanish – so we complement each other!). Additionally, I write words, meanings and examples in my notebook so I don’t forget. I find it much easier to learn grammar and difficult phrases by reading. Many times, in the past I struggled to put my English learning into practice – but reading has “unlocked” this door for me with many “Aha!” moments. That is when I really see the importance or reading!
Improving your writing: If you read every day you will develop a wide-ranging vocabulary and you will improve your writing. It is easier to learn the way the language is organised when you read and understanding synonyms will help your writing too. When the writer has a lovely variety of connectors, transitions words, and the structure is well-organised it is a pleasure to read and learn better techniques. I love to learn and copy nice English phrases!
Increasing knowledge: You can explore interesting subjects and reading in a different language to your “mother-tongue” can give you a global vision. Some subjects are very well developed in English and there are many really good sources – for example in science, business, academia and many other topics. If you get pleasure from reading, your knowledge will increase immensely – it is a wonderful “side-effect”.
Stimulating your creativity: When you are reading you are at liberty to create your own interpretation and scenarios and add some additional interest to the characters. You can use your imagination to visualise other possibilities and outcomes for the story and ponder over many questions – it is a great outlet for the imagination and the development of a fertile mind. Sometimes I am constantly thinking during the day about what is going to happen next in my book! I am more comfortable reading than watching TV because I get the space to let my imagination wander at my leisure. Sometimes, TV is too fast-paced for me, and I don’t like the visual content so much – it is there one moment and gone the next!
Time for relaxation: Reading needs time and a nice personal space. When you start reading regularly, you can feel more relaxed. Concentrating on an interesting book you will forget your worries!
Improving your concentration: When you enjoy your reading a lot and become “absorbed” in a book, you can lose track of time. You will want to know more about the story and you will continue reading your book longer than you planned. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing because you can learn to concentrate to do more things properly by dedicating your time. Learning the discipline to focus and dedicate your mind is a good thing – especially if you apply it to the rest of your daily life. This is how books can empower your thought processes!
I remember my granny – she was a homemaker and in her free time she read “Reader’s digest” (Reader’s Digest Magazine) to learn about her world. She was very knowledgeable because of books and reading.
She was born at a time when women didn’t have the same opportunities we have now. She was not allowed to finish secondary school because her father made her leave to work. However, she continued to read avidly, and she only stopped when she lost her vision in old age – a result of many years of sewing tiny threads in poor light. But through reading she was comfortable to talk about many topics, and she motivated her children to study – one is a professor of agronomy and the others, including my dad, were school-teachers! How powerful reading can be!
Find time to read and enjoy your books! You will find pleasure in exploring different subjects and at the same time you will improve your knowledge, grammar rules and your vocabulary!! And have some relaxing fun while empowering your mind! The written word is a gift we should all enjoy! And that is why reading is important!
By María-Verónica Paredes