You may be familiar with the quote, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Many top business leaders refer to this quote from Harry S. Truman when asked about their keys to success. While you may listen to audiobooks or scroll social media or blogs looking for information, sitting down with a book is arguably one of the best ways to grow personally and professionally.

Just ask Carey Nieuwhof, a best-selling leadership author, speaker and podcaster. He reads about 70-90 books each year. Nieuwhof does this by setting aside time each day for reading and being intentional about how he uses social media. Rather than fritter away his time, he stays purposeful about reading both fiction and nonfiction.

If you want to get back into reading or simply enjoy more books, keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today. We highlight Nieuwhof’s thoughts on five unexpected benefits that books bring.

1. Reading promotes brain health. Students of all ages read for their assignments, but you can benefit from a brain boost outside of the classroom. Nieuwhof says that reading creates neurons in your brain through a process called neurogenesis. While reading, your brain connects abstract symbols (letters and words) to thoughts and images, which leads to the formation of quicker neural pathways between the parts of your brain associated with language development, memory, imagination and sensory processing.

2. Reading provides perspective. You may be familiar with the old theme song, “Take a look. It’s in a book.” By reading, you can gain insight and a peek inside some of history’s greatest minds. Simply by reading words on a page, you can tap into the rich vein of hard-fought wisdom, intellect and instruction through the ages, Nieuwhof says.

3. Reading boosts your empathy. Through books, you can get a better understanding of people’s opinions, ideas and beliefs. Even if you disagree with their thoughts, you can still come away with a fresh perspective on the writer’s experiences. Nieuwhof says that if our brains work as operating systems for our worldview, then books can serve as the upgrade package to that operating system.

4. Reading encourages a slower pace. In today’s culture of constant busyness, it can feel almost luxurious to settle in with a book. If you typically fill your time with things that don’t matter, try refocusing on reading. In the end, your life is no more than the sum of what you gave your attention to, Nieuwhof says.

5. Reading is fun. If you’re already an avid reader, you can agree with this point. And if you don’t consider yourself a reader, you’re missing out on a simple pleasure. Nieuwhof says that the right book can whisk you away to a far-off planet, a haunted mansion or a tropical paradise — all from the comfort of home. He recommends reading books that challenge your worldview, develop your character and sharpen your skills, but to also seek books that spark your imagination, thrill your senses and satisfy your curiosity.

Reading is an inexpensive (and sometimes free) way to boost your knowledge, expand your perspective and increase your empathy. As book-lovers know, reading is also an excellent way to relax. Heading into the weekend, think about what topics you’d like to read about, and then go check out or buy a book.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker and podcaster.