I have to say that reading was my first love. My parents would read to my brothers and me almost every night. As a result, I think back on books like “The Little Engine That Could,” “Hop on Pop” and “Puff, the Magic Dragon” and can’t help but smile.
Reading opened my eyes and my imagination, giving me an escape whenever I needed it.
If you can’t tell, I’m a total book nerd. I was the kid constantly stuck in her daydreams who would whip out a book in between classes because I always had to get in just one more page. To no one’s surprise, I’m now an English major with dreams of being a great writer someday.
All this exposition is meant to clarify that I am far from unbiased, but when asked if I prefer books or movies, my answer is clear. It’s certainly not the popular answer though. While reading hasn’t gone totally out of style, most people I know would much rather sit back and watch a movie after a long day of work than crack open a dusty old book. We can turn off our brains and let the screen tell the story for us.
This is precisely what I like about books. They allow you to create vast worlds in your mind that are uniquely yours. Movies can be a great way to bring a book to life, yes, but the book allows you to live the story for yourself.
What’s more, the health benefits of reading are numerous. It’s been linked to delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well as exercising memory and thinking skills. Reading can help increase empathy and vocabulary and help people improve their sleep schedules — it’s like an easy and fun workout for your brain!
I know I’m a little gung-ho about this topic, and I know what you’re thinking: This all sounds nice, but movies are relaxing and don’t require as much effort. You can just sit back, enjoy the ride and doze off if you choose. Maybe you’re not interested in working out your brain, and that’s fair.
However, what would you think if I told you that reading has been scientifically linked to reducing stress more effectively than other media? It’s not necessarily true that movies are more relaxing. Seeing a really good movie can be an emotionally overwhelming experience that leaves you more drained than before you started watching.
This brings me to my next point, which is that books are more accessible than movies. The average price of a movie ticket in 2019 was $9.16, and a Netflix subscription costs anywhere from $9.99 to $19.99 per month, which can add up quickly.
On the flip side, with a public library card, I can walk into my local library and get multiple books for free. At my home library in Omaha, I can check out up to 40 books at a time, which is more than I read in a year. Not to mention, most libraries offer digital options, like audiobooks and e-books through services like Libby. Getting books in non-traditional formats can be a game changer when it comes to convenience. So many books, so little time.
It may be true that movies take less time to watch than books take to read, but it’s so worth it. I have a very unhealthy habit of reading books in one sitting, but let me tell you, there is no feeling like finally emerging from my couch indent and feeling like I know all the secrets of the universe. I feel like I can take on the world. To quote Charlie from “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”: “I feel infinite.”
There are a couple easy ways you can incorporate reading into your busy lifestyle. Start by carrying a book with you in your purse or backpack and try to read a few pages when you have a spare minute. Or, try to replace scrolling on your phone with reading before bed. Finally, the next time a film adaptation of a popular book comes out, challenge yourself to finish the book before seeing the movie.
To all the cinephiles out there who I’ve possibly offended, if you still don’t believe me, try it for yourself. There’s a book out there for everyone if you take the time to find it, and you never know where it will lead you.
Rylee Gregg is a freshman English and Spanish double major. Reach her from her at email@example.com.