Most people read when they are stressed or when they are at the beach, but I read for no reason. I just read, read and read. When I was in elementary school, I didn’t like books much, but when I was a senior in high school and in college, I started to read like hell. I was finishing 3–4 novels in 1 month. It was crazy. I even started to read 2 novels in different languages at the same time. When I was a kid, my teacher told us we could learn a lot of new things and get ideas from books, but I wasn’t sure. I was thinking, how? If the book about how to play chess, what else we can learn from it? Actually a lot. I was judging books by their covers and short jacket descriptions. Fact is, inside of the book was unexplored territory. I was learning so much about everything. I started to respect authors more than ever, because if you want to write a book about something you have to know everything about your subject. And you need to do a lot of research. So reading books also encouraged me to do research as well. I fell in love with books.
I was very good at computers — not just playing games, but also learning to a programmer and doing small hacks. But books were getting more of my attention. Reading raised my grades, and I finished school with a third. Today I’ve graduated from university and I’m still reading, but these days I’m more careful when choosing books. Back then I was reading whatever I was curious about. if I liked a book, I would read that author’s other books, too.
I have set a goal to read 18 books in 2018. I have already read two books in the last two weeks. Also, for some reason, I lose attention when I’m reading. Actually, I can’t say I lose attention — it’s more like I get bored and I want to do something else for 3–5 minutes and then get back to what I was doing. I don’t know why I do this.
One research study found that reading for just six minutes can help reduce stress levels by as much as 68% — it’s more effective than going for a walk, drinking a cup of tea or listening to music. Another research study found the same, but with 30-minute sessions of yoga, reading and humor (watching SNL). Reading was found to consistently reduce blood pressure, heart rate and one’s Daily Stress Inventory score.
Reading also helps you lose yourself in a fictional character through a process called experience-taking, “the imaginative process of spontaneously assuming the identity of a character in a narrative and simulating that character’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, goals, and traits as if they were one’s own.” And it may actually lead to real life changes. And finally, a related study introduced and proved the hypothesis of narrative collective-assimilation: “experiencing a narrative leads one to psychologically become a part of the collective described within the narrative.” The study involved participants reading Harry Potter — they actually believed they were wizards.
Of course, there are other reasons to read often: learning, expanding your perspectives, vocabulary, and imagination. So when I start to read, I decided to get an Amazon Kindle. My first Kindle I forget in an Uber taxi. Actually, the driver left and I forget it inside and he didn’t answer my call. Anyway, I went to an Amazon store in San Diego to buy another one — this one was so much better and lighter, a Kindle Oasis. It is so much fun to read — it’s almost as enjoyable as reading an actual paper book. With an illuminated Kindle, I can read anywhere in any light. You can do this with an actual book. Read anywhere, no distractions! Cool, right?
Another book person asked me why I don’t use the Kindle app on my tablet or phone. Have you ever tried reading for a long period on your phone, laptop or tablet? It’s a minefield of distractions and eye strain. No other buzzing, notifications or the temptation to just quickly — just for a second — switch apps to see what’s going on Twitter. The Kindle is purpose-built, distraction-free.
It’s tiny and great for travel. I have no qualms about bringing my Kindle along while I’m traveling. There’s no way around it: print books are heavy, require the perfect lighting situation and often require two hands to hold, lest the book always tries to close itself on you. Hear about a cool book from a friend or colleague? It can be on your Kindle in 15 seconds. No need to wait for the package to arrive. Some Kindle models have a 3G connection, so you can buy books wherever you are, even if you’re traveling abroad. Less clutter! And the big one for me: I’m trying to simplify my physical possessions.
And don’t expect a Kindle to save you a ton of money in the long run. Just because you are now purchasing a digital good instead of a physical object, it’s not going to be an order of magnitude cheaper. While I’ve hired the Kindle for this job, I will acknowledge the quaint and familiar facets of print books. The smell. The texture and grain of the page as it slips across your finger when turning the page. Being able to pass a book down to the next generation. The sound of sharp new pages skirmishing against each other. But there is, of course, bad things with Kindles, too — such as I can’t find any books in PDF format or in the Amazon store to download or transfer to my Kindle Oasis. Also, I miss going to a real bookstore, and I can’t find Turkish e-books I want to read. The final thing — and this is soooo crazy — I was complaining that I have to charge my Apple Watch — and now I have to charge my book! Isn’t that funny? (“My book just died. I need to recharge it!”)