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It’s that time of year again! Grab your sunglasses, your beach towel, and all the books you’ve been saving to read on your summer holiday. But wait a second—why have you been collecting books the whole year rather than reading them? If you’re like the rest of us, it’s because reading is a pleasure we only afford ourselves when we have time for it. And so of course, we associate it only with the rest and relaxation of being on vacation. Quite a pity, considering how sitting down with a good book is really something we should be doing every day.  Here are just a few reasons why.

1. Reading chills you out

After a stressful day of work and other commitments, many of us reach for the TV remote, thinking that it won’t demand much of our intellect and therefore will de-stress us. But science says this is a mistake. As reported in The Telegraph, a 2009 study conducted by the University of Sussex proved that engrossing yourself in the written word was the most effective way to combat stress, resulting in lower heart rates and reduced muscle tension. In fact, in just six minutes, participants were more relaxed than when they watched television, took a walk or drank a cup of tea.

2. Reading flexes your mind muscles

Another reason you shouldn’t wait until you’re seaside to start that new novel is that our brains need the stimulation that reading provides to keep our memories sharp, staving off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. You don’t wait until July or August to hit the gym; you should have the same respect for your mental capacities as you do for your physical health.

3. Reading fights distraction with focus

In an age where children and adults alike are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, the ability to single-task has really gone by the wayside. We’re monitoring Twitter, we’re checking our e-mail, we’re watching cat videos on YouTube all at the same time: and none of this is good for our concentration or our productivity. Reading a book blocks out all the external noise and information that the digital age bombards us with, requiring us to focus on just one activity. Read a book for a few minutes each morning or evening and you’ll notice a marked improvement in your ability to complete tasks at work.

4. Reading makes you a better person

When you delve into a story featuring characters from all walks of life, it helps to expand your point of view. This leads to you becoming more empathetic, because you’re able to see the world from a different vantage point. Empathy is an important personality trait that most of us could use more of, and if we can develop it by doing something as fun as reading, it’s a pity that we don’t read more often.

5. Reading inspires you to live your best life

World-famous fantasy writer George RR Martin is quoted as saying, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.” This is both poignant and apt—when we read books, we are able to experiences places, people and events that we don’t encounter in daily life. Books contain page after page of inspiration, leading us on paths we might never have explored had we not picked them from the shelves.

These are just five excellent reasons why you should be making time to read on a regular basis instead of reserving it for holidays. There are countless others, but instead of going into them here, we’d rather give you some book suggestions to get you started. Don’t wait to bring these books to the beach—find the comfiest chair in your house and crack one open today!

The Happiness Project

by Gretchen Rubin

Citing the fact that, “the days are long, but the years are short. Time is passing, and I’m not really focusing on the things that matter,” Rubin decided to devote a year of her life to studying scientific evidence, ancient wisdom and popular culture with the goal of become a happier person. Along the way, she learned some interesting lessons, including that money can help buy happiness as long as you spend it wisely and that some of the smallest changes in life can cause the most positive effects. All in all, an inspiring and informative read for anybody looking to slow down and invite more happiness into their daily life.

The Mothers

by Britt Bennett

This debut novel, set in a close-knit African-American community in southern California, starts with a secret. As the narrator tells us, “All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.” A thrilling story with lots to say about motherhood, religion and personal tragedy, this book will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari’s bestseller is a must-read for anybody interested in how dating and marriage has evolved over decades, thanks to shifts in culture and the advent of technology. Having surveyed a large number of people from all parts of the world and of all ages, Ansari makes some sharp observations about dating in the digital age, which produces such burning questions as, “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” Hilarious and thought-provoking, you’ll find yourself nodding in recognition and laughing out loud while reading this unique work of non-fiction.

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