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‘Read more books’ says leading purpose and performance coach Mark Whittle – here’s why reading is so important for our wellbeing

Reading is one of our greatest skills says Purpose and Performance Coach, Mark Whittle. Join us every week for productivity hacks, lifestyle changes and tools to help you through the rest of lockdown 

Reading is a privilege. To be able to read, is a privilege.

The first written communication dates back to 3,500BC and those who could read, would hold public performances showing off their skill.

Several thousand years later, the first books came into existence in Rome, and later the middle east and Asia. Initially books were rare and expensive and those who could read where of a certain political status.  

the average Brit in 2020 spent only five hours reading a week

Today, nearly 85 per cent of us can read and books have never been as accessible or as cheap, with Amazon selling books as little as $2.99.

Yet the average Brit in 2020 spent only five hours reading a week!

As Barrack Obama said, ‘Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible’. As humans we have a fundamental desire to improve and progress in our lives and reading is one of the key practices, we can undertake in order to do so.  

The benefits of reading  

Reading has been shown to significantly improve cognitive function, increase vocabulary, reduce stress and aid in sleep quality.

It has also been shown to increase lifespan! So whether you read fiction to spark the imagination and escape, or non-fiction to learn and develop, it will make you feel better and live longer.   

I’m not suggesting you follow Bill Gates lead, with his average 50 books per year. As a kid, I didn’t read much. But after a few years out of school I started to crave further education.

Eventually I decided to self-educate and the beauty is, there is a book about every subject you could possibly dream of learning about.  

At first, I set myself the target of reading 24 books in one year, 2 books a month. I didn’t actually get anywhere near my goal and only read 14. But, I had created a new habit for myself.

The following year I read 36 books and the year after that, 48. Today I comfortably read two to three books a month, watch less tv, sleep better and generally feel happier.   

School books stacked on desk with chalkboard.

Make reading a habit  

When looking to create a reading habit, find subjects you are interested in that make you want to keep reading.

If you start a book and don’t like it, don’t feel like you have to finish it. It’s your time and your choice. Find variety in the books and authors you choose.

On average I read three non fiction to about one fiction a month. Most of the non-fiction books I read are self help and business books – but every now and then I throw a sports autobiography in there, because I know I love reading them and is a refreshing break from always reading about improving.

Aim to read for 30 minutes a day or ten to 15 pages

I also read a lot of books in preparation for the Take FLIGHT podcast episode in advance of guests featuring. For example James Haskell was recently a guest. His book ‘What A Flanker’ was fantastic! Full of hilarious stories and hard hitting life advice on how to succeed!

Last season I also spoke with former SAS operative and DS on Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins, Jay Morton, and thoroughly enjoying reading his book ‘soldier’ in advance of our conversation.  

Aim to read for 30 minutes a day or ten to 15 pages, whichever feels best. I have created a Take FLIGHT bookshelf over the years which may help you getting started.

As Dr Suess said, ‘the more books you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go’. Enjoy the journey, wherever you go! 


Mark Whittle is a purpose, performance and lifestyle coach. 

Mark is also hosts one of the UK’s leading podcasts – Take Flight – featuring over 100 episodes with the worlds greatest minds and performers. 

Having lived with mental health himself, Mark vulnerably shares his own experience in an attempt to inspire others to open up themselves, rather than suffer in silence.

Related Healthista Content:

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