I’m an avid reader. I always have been. But people often ask me how I find time to read. For me, it’s like anything else in my life—if it’s important to me, I find the time. Plus, I can’t fall asleep unless I read, so by default I get a few, sometimes many, pages in every night of my life.

I’m in a book club, which like most is more of a social club, but we do read and we do talk about the book during each meeting. For me, I’ve found it’s an outlet, an inexpensive way to escape reality. On any given day there is a pile of books on my nightstand. I read like most people watch TV. My mood at the time or which characters I feel like closing out my day with determines which book I read each night. I’m also a crossover reader—both digital and the old-school variety. I asked my book club members why they read and here are some solid reasons you should too:

1. It’s relaxing. You may not be able to flit off to the Caribbean to chill in the sun for the weekend but you can relax with a book, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. For most of my book club it’s a stress reducer. Plus a great book helps you forget your daily drama.

2. You become a better conversationalist. Reading builds your vocabulary. Even the fluffiest books often impart new tidbits of knowledge allowing for you to be a better conversationalist. I used to read when I breastfed my twins. Considering most new moms are brain dead from exhaustion this one activity let my brain function on a level above nursing bras and nap time.

3. It improves your mental health. If reducing stress and becoming better spoken at cocktail parties still aren’t strong enough reasons for you to make time to read, how about a little science? Multiple studies have proven readings benefits your mental health, including everything from slowing Alzheimer’s to improving your focus and concentration. So smarten up and start reading.

Here are some of my book club’s recommendations (in no particular order) perfect to get you back to reading, but I’d love to know your favorite reads too. Please share!

A Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story, John Berendt

Brain on Fire; My Month of MadnessSusannah Cahalan

Me Talk Pretty One DayDavid Sedaris

The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak

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