wow! I am impressed by your recording setup and your recording prowess in such a short time! I've been here for years, but never gotten really technical. I do use compression often though, mostly in order to lower those spikes in the waveform that prevent me from amplifying. So, yes, compression has its uses.
As for reading with pauses, I use the punctuation in the text. A short pause in a comma, a longer pause/breath in a full stop, etc. I've read that breathing through your nose makes less noise, but my nose makes as much noise as my mouth
So you can experiment if you feel that your breaths are too noisy. I can't tell, I haven't heard you breathing yet
I do shorten some longer pauses during editing, but never less than a second. A pause of about 1-2 seconds in a full stop is what sounds the most natural to me, but that can be objective.