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10 essential purchases that'll help you hit your reading goals

It doesn't matter what you're reading, as long as you're reading.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
  • Studies have shown that reading not only increases intelligence and sharpens emotional capabilities, it can also help reduce the risk of dementia.
  • Different types of reading triggers an increase in blood flow to different sections of the brain, so as long as you're reading something, your brain is being exercised.
  • When setting reading goals, it's important to remember that it's not the destination that matters but the stories you experience along the way. These products will help make that journey easier and more fun.

How many books are you hoping to read this year? 20? 52? 152, maybe? Whether you're a voracious reader who can breeze through Stephen King's It in one day, or someone who reads at a more deliberate pace, it can be hard to stay on target to achieve your reading goals. There are just so many distractions, and once you reach a certain age it can feel like time is moving at 2x speed. Whatever the obstacle, it's important to not give up and to remember that even if you fall short of that magic number, each new book is an exercise for your brain.

Studies have shown there are many benefits to cracking open a book, especially when it's for pleasure. It can increase empathy and more intelligence while also lowering your risk of mental decline. Reading a book a day, according to a 2018 study conducted in Hong Kong, could be the key to preventing dementia. Not really in the mood to tackle a complicated text? Skimming is still a valid way to get your brain working. Back in 2012, researchers at Stanford observed the brain functions of PhD candidates while they read excerpts from a Jane Austen novel. The subjects were asked to read leisurely at first and then more intently. The study showed an increase in blood flow in the brain during both sessions, but the increase occurred in different areas depending on the type of engagement.

So the moral is that any reading is good reading. This list of products and gadgets will help you keep those pages turning.

Keep track of your reading adventure the analog way.

Websites and apps that allow you to keep track of your progress are great, but there's something special about keeping a physical journal. This diary has space for all the important details (author, title, page count, genre) and also lined sections where you can jot down notes and opinions.

Expert advice on which books you should pick up next. 

Available as a monthly Kindle download or a yearly print subscription, the New York Times Book Review covers all of the new releases and upcoming titles so that you never have to waste your time with a bad book. It's also a valuable resource for finding books that were not previously on your radar.

Take several books with you, even to the beach.

This updated version of the Kindle Paperwhite adds a crucial feature: It's waterproof. With an IPX8 rating, you can accidentally drop this e-reader in a relatively deep pool (two meters) for an hour, fish it out, and keep reading Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys like nothing ever happened.

Every night-reader needs a clip-on light.

With a warm tone that's easier on the eyes, three brightness levels, and a 60-hour battery life, this book light is listed as Amazon's Choice with close to 6,000 reviews. Book lights are great if you want to read in bed or another dim setting without disturbing the non-readers around you.

Keep to your reading schedule with this digital bookmark and timer.

Smartphones can be distracting when you're trying to lose yourself in a good story. Place the phone on Do Not Disturb and instead set a timer with this product, that way reading time is uninterrupted but you also don't go overboard and miss out on an appointment or quality sleep time.

A reading nook for the little ones.

If you're raising a fellow book lover, they'll need a cozy reading nook of their own. This easy to assemble bookcase doubles as a comfortable seating area where young bookworms can devour every bound copy in sight.

Socks to let everyone know you're busy.

How are you supposed to keep on pace with family and friends around? If they can read, these socks will do the shushing for you.

Light-weight reading glasses are a game changer.

It's easier to keep reading when you're comfortable and not constantly adjusting your specs. These super thin, super lightweight reading glasses are shatterproof, made in the USA, very flexible, and are available in strengths from 1.0x up to 2.5x.

Normal pillows just won't cut it.

If the book is good enough, reading can be a full body experience. Settle into a comfortable position with this foam-filled lounge cushion. It's designed to support your arms, back, and neck, and the velour cover is soft and warm against your skin.

BONUS: Always say yes to the wearable blanket.

Will a sherpa-lined hoodie blanket help you with your reading? Probably not, but at least you'll be super cozy while you do it! There is even a big kangaroo pocket where you can stash your paperback during a quick nap.

A bookmark-shaped gift card is a handy reminder to keep buying books.

How do you expect to meet your reading goals if you don't have more books ready and waiting to be read? It's so easy to lose a gift card to the bottom of a purse or a random cranny in your bedroom, but with this bookmark you'll always know where to find it: in the book you should be making progress with every day.

When you buy something through a link in this article, Big Think earns a small affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.

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