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Why Reading Makes You Smart: Dr. Amrita Basu Misra

Luckily as a child I have ignored labels and read everything. The West Bengal board back then, had subjects, exam patterns, which required a lot of mugging up.

Education Post20 May 2019 06:02

Humans are unique. Though we have an innate ability to speak, reading and writing are acquired skills. The brain needs training for this. After watching Taarey Zammeen Par every parent wanted to change the narrative. Who needs education when you can support the child’s creativity? Right? But why not have everything? Why is there a fight between the science and arts? Isn’t both creative? Why is reading, writing maths and science at opposite ends of drawing, singing and other artsy skills?

Luckily as a child I have ignored labels and read everything. The West Bengal board back then, had subjects, exam patterns, which required a lot of mugging up. The best way to beat the boredom, was to read my subjects from non-syllabus books. This helped me write better answers and keep boredom away. This technique later helped me in my higher studies too.

The good part of reading is, it satisfies your curiosity. The bad part…there are none!

The real world likes things which work and employable education. That’s where reading helps develop your world view. It’s great to be interested in a particular subject. But just like the world needs all sorts of profession so too with education. Until you read a lot, you miss the full picture. You are counting the trees and never seeing the forest.

Read a Rainbow

I am a voracious reader. Even during my med school days, I never forgot to carry a Perry Mason or an Agatha Christie around with me. The bliss of forgetting text books, comes from solving mysteries. Now when I am a doctor, I keep reading fiction, it helps me relax. I also read a lot of nonfiction on a multitude of topics. This helps me learn a lot of things which I found interesting, but never had the opportunity to learn. One book I am memorising now is This is Marketing by Seth Godin. Five years back I wouldn’t have read it. But today it’s a different story. I am reading it because I like reading Seth’s blog. A man who debunks the sleazy part of Marketing and makes you want to make the world a better place.

How are these books helpful for me?

I am a practicing ENT surgeon. I am moonlighting as a doctor-blogger and as elf-published author. Everything I read helps. While health is the main focus of my blog, I wanted to learn to create wealth through digital entrepreneurship.  I am having fun learning and that’s the purpose. It’s also nice to earn writing.

How Healthwealthbridge (my blog) started

The name Healthwealthbridge keeps reminding me, that it’s my education, my love for reading that helps me. My hubby and I both come from middle-class backgrounds. Typical Bengali middle-class parents drill the value of education early on. How far you will let your brain accept this simple wisdom, is individual. Education is the only sustainable way of coming out of poverty. For that you need to be a lifelong learner. Not just text books. But books with wisdom from all over the world and all ages.

Education is the bridge which holds health and wealth together

Health awareness through digital media is my goal. Wealth generation and management both needs education. Education at its simplest and cheapest starts with reading. When you don’t read you don’t grasp world views well. When you have good reading skills, you develop a curiosity around different topics. That’s what happened to me after I did my post-grad. Reading topics on my subject was great but I wanted more challenges for my brain.

Slowly learning how to manage my blog was a boost. Reading a book on how to use Scratch with my daughter was basic but fun. These are concepts I have no formal training. I am dreaming of learning to code one day and I have my reading material ready. But will I be able to do it? I don’t know. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Education is fun, once you have your rozi roti planned. Being a doctor helps me be financially independent and I can study as many subjects as much as I want. The world is my library and nothing stops me now.

Reading helps you learn new skills

If I didn’t read, I could hardly have written’ since I have no formal training in creative writing. As a little girl I read books hidden inside my textbooks. Before exams I regretted my excessive story book binging. But they helped too. My speed reading, skimming skills became better.

PG training had meant, no time to read too many story books. I made up for it, by reading new text books on my subject, every few days. It was so bad, that my hubby put his foot down before the exams. He insisted that I needed to revise my text books and to read new books before exams was not smart. But when it came to vivas and unexpected exam questions it was my voracious extracurricular book reading that helped me.

Lesson learned: Reading always helps

My journey: Doctor to Doctor-Blogger

I write a lot of health, nutrition, wellness-related topics. I also love writing about my parenting journey and journey as a mompreneur. Reading a good book makes me want to write. When I stop reading, I feel empty dry inside. Reading is like thirst quencher for my soul and my brain. My reading habit takes the blame for my ultra-opinionated know-it-all -self.But it’s also the very basis behind all my professional and nonprofessional successes.

Reading a quick way to increase your IQ: The Science behind it

As a child me and my sister had a gala time during holidays. We competed at devouring as many books as we could find, homework or no homework. But after class seven, I realized my mom will cut off pocket money and library visits, if my results suffered. Guess what? I studied harder and saved my precious library allowance. I have spent more money on renting books at the used books, than on lipstick or phuchka. Till date my favourite gifts are books and my hubby are happy that book fair comes before my birthday.

Why should you read a lot?

If you are a student, remember you can learn to love reading any time. You need to find a topic you love. Once you get glued to the process there is no going back. A study on more than thousand twins showed, that between the age of seven and sixteen, reading interest and habits have a direct effect on intelligence. Today and now is also the next best thing. The more you read the more neural connections happen. You register, retain, find correlations and then find your models for navigating the world. This is what makes your IQ higher.

How to potentially improve IQ?

Reading every day is the cheapest and easiest way to improve IQ. If you have read  Munger’s Poor Charlies Almanac, you will understand what I am talking about. You will also know, if you have read Miss Marple by Agatha Christie. Both stress on the ability of recognizing frameworks or models. The type which helps you identify patterns and find solutions.Reading increases all types of intelligence, including emotional intelligence. It’s probably the simplest way to improve your chances of success and happiness. Successful people not only read a lot; they curate their reading material as carefully as they maintain their diet. While food nourishes the body, reading books nourish your brain. Reading increases your ability to recognize pattern and improve problem solving skills at multiple levels. I may be biased but that’s what any reader will tell you!


ENT surgeon, Blogger and Author of Five Books


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