A week had gone by, and I had not picked up a book, of which I have many that I am in the middle of reading. The last few nights, I had been distracted by a Netflix series, you know, the kind that keeps drawing you back for more? The temptation was great enough that I would turn on the show in the middle of my evening before I got other things done, like picking up or getting ready for the next day. And as I would watch my show, one episode might turn into two, and soon enough, a full hour or better had passed by, and after a few nights of this, I felt a sense of guilt. I wasn't taking care of the apartment, I was getting to bed late, and I could tell I wasn't getting as much sleep because I was staring at a bright television screen until bedtime, which we all know is poor sleep hygiene. This lead me to question the difference between watching TV and reading a book.
So, I am sure you will agree that watching TV is a very passive experience. You can click on the tube, have a seat, and watch without effort on your part. While on the other hand, reading is a very proactive and engaging experience. It requires the reader to focus on the plot within the book and put together concepts and ideas, as well as imagine the details described. Furthermore, TV shows present characters on a very surface level, without having the luxury of time to describe people, situations, and places in detail like books can, engaging the creative parts of our brains. TV shows are designed to be very fast-paced to keep viewers' attention, while books use less flashy and more creatively engaging ways to keep attention.
Some studies have shown that children who watch more TV have higher arousal and aggression levels. While children who spent more time reading with a parent had increased levels of communication. Some research also suggests that reading is protective against Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a form of dementia, and that TV watching is a risk factor associated with AD.
Now, there is nothing wrong with watching television and allowing yourself the pleasure of zoning out on occasion. But still, there are benefits to reading on a regular basis, including the that of reducing stress, improving concentration and literacy, teaching empathy, and depending on the topic we choose to read about, reading can increase our general knowledge, as well as inspire, motivate, or entertain us.
While the thought of picking up a book may feel daunting at this moment, I want to reassure you that it can also be a soothing and relaxing experience if you choose to make it so. With your next free evening, instead of flipping on your usual TV show, try setting the mood with some candles, dim lighting, soft music, and a warm cup of tea while you cuddle up on the couch with a book. If you aren’t sure what book to read, try texting a friend or two for recommendations. I think everyone gets a little excited to share what books they’ve liked best and why. There are also plenty of online book reviews to look through or consider browsing your local library to get some ideas.
Cheers & happy reading!