We are only a week into the new year and the world already seems to have gotten crazier and crazier. Admittedly, because the happenings of the world are so depressing, I avoid keeping up with what is going on. I’m saving what I can of my sanity for the March primary election.

Instead of focusing on war or how much our government is spending recklessly, I have spent the last week before the Spring Semester reading novels and walking my dogs as much as possible. In fact, I’ve already checked three books off my list and am partway through another.

I have full faith that those of you who take the newspaper enjoy reading and are intelligent people. I wish more people, especially of my generation, enjoyed reading. Using social media, I see the full effects of those who chose not to read after high school. Over the weekend a person on social media was selling “brawls” (she meant bras) on social media. Constantly, I see “are” and “our” mixed up or the word “an” used as “and.” I see people say “I seen,” which especially drives me crazy.

While some of these errors may be genuine mistakes that even the best of readers and writers can make, I am pretty sure most of these word misuses come from a lack of reading and literacy skills.

By the way, ending a sentence with a preposition is NOT an error. It’s perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. Those who disagree are holding on to old English rules that are no longer in effect.

Anyway, back on topic… I’ve written about this many times before, but literacy comprehension goes hand in hand with poverty and crime rates. The better the reader you are, the more likely you are to be successful.

According to statistics, the average American only reads for 15 minutes a day (the time increases the older the individual is). That’s such a shame considering the multitude of benefits reading has on the brain.

For starters, reading makes you smarter. As Dr. Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.” Reading helps you learn and increases your analytical thinking skills.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve taken about becoming a better writer was from Stephen King’s “On Writing” book. King notes that in order to be a good writer, you need to be an avid reader. While you may not realize it, reading introduces you to new sentence structures and words that can assist you in becoming a better writer.

Further, reading helps your brain by giving it a good workout – while jogging makes your body healthier, reading increases the health of your brain; it can help increase your thinking power and improve your memory. In fact, reading has shown to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

A couple of added bonuses to reading is that it can help reduce stress (forget about your worries with a good book!) and can help you sleep better at night.

Upon browsing through Books-A-Million on Saturday, I came across an interesting book called “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” by Grady Hendrix. The cover drew me in because it looked like an 80s VHS tape. Being a horror fan, I bought the book. I read it within a day.

I know we are only a week into 2020, but “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is my all-time favorite book. If you enjoy horror novels, check it out. A warning, though – it gave me nightmares after I finished it. Obviously, it was effectively written.

In 2020, share the benefits of reading by picking up a good book today. Many of you have gotten to know me through this column, so if you have a book that you think I would enjoy, let me know what it is.