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DR AUDREY TANG

 Award-winning business author and broadcaster

Leadership trainer and coach

Keynote speaker

  • Writer's pictureAudrey Tang

The many benefits of reading


I love a good book. I might be biased because I write books, but there's something about a great story that can take you to a completely different world, that can teach you, that can connect with you - that can even give you hope when you had little.


Reading has intellectual and emotional benefits – you practice concentration (something greatly undervalued in a swipe left/answer push notifications world), you broaden vocabulary, and it can be a wonderful form of escapism. 


Through reading you can lose yourself in someone else’s world where their experiences may resonate and help you feel less alone.


...and if it’s a popular book, you can always use storylines to help you talk about some topics which you might otherwise avoid…instead of “Asking for a friend”, you can say “So what are your thoughts on Christian Grey’s dating behaviours?”.


Reading also promotes empathy – you learn how others think, and gain an understanding of perspectives other than our own.  This in turn can help us relate to people better. BUT sadly recent research by the National Literacy Trust in 2022 found that fewer than 3 in 10 children read. 


However, through my own experience as a teacher this could be down to a couple of things – in some cases I have had parents say to me “My child doesn’t read” – when their child reads non-fiction avidly, even creating mini projects on topics they were inspired by.  …similarly, reading magazines or comics is still reading.  But also, sometimes when I have asked other adults – what are you reading?  They say “nothing”, or maybe “Cosmo in the waiting room”…if we as adults are not modelling reading, how can we expect younger people to recognise it as a wonderful activity?

 

The Metro published a reflection on the popularity of True Crime https://metro.co.uk/2021/11/13/why-are-we-so-obsessed-with-true-crime-15576951/  stating even in the 16th century, people were reading about capital crimes.  However, our interest can be deeper than escapism

 

Entertainment: The brain derives pleasure out of being amused.  For example, when reading about con artists, especially when our brain knows that it is in a safe environment, it can experience the “reward” of a positive resolution, after the “mild peril” of the story itself, and it can know that it is at least one step removed from involvement.


Education: While we read them we can sometimes comfort ourselves with the notion “Oh wow – but it’ll never happen to me”…or if we have ourselves been conned or scammed in the past may think “At least it’s not just me”, or of course “If I read about their tricks, I can learn so I will be more mindful next time.”  (Or secret option 4…so THAT’s the play book on scams…!)


Exploring such nuances of behaviour as you might see in books – especially non-fiction, but narrative led, gives us as students of mind and behaviour a greater insight into how we think.  For example, if you recognise that one of the characters in a scam drama was “so desperate” at the time, we could then use this to educate ourselves and think twice especially at the times when we “really want” something, or feel down and need to be “picked up”…those are the times at which we are most vulnerable…but this sort of discussion often needs to be prompted as it can feel a little too “deep” for everyday chat…but as a trainer, I do find it helpful to use these sorts of stories as a starting point for discussion.


So - have you read a good book lately? How did it enhance you own life story?




Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and award-winning business author. She hosts Mental Health Matters on e360tv, and produces Skits and Quibbles: the arts and wellness show on the same network via her studio. She delivers training and keynotes in the area of wellbeing in leadership and organisations, and shimmies her stuff on the dance floor every Wednesday teaching Burlesque.



 


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