Hardly anyone can be surprised by the fact that books are important and reading has its benefits.
But have you ever wondered what exactly makes books such an integral part of our lives? The fact that books have survived the rise of TV and social media already proves their greatness.
But what is behind this love for books? Is it the entertaining factor? Or something else?
In this article, we dive into the benefits of reading a good book.
Benefits of reading: What science says
According to a study by Pew Research Center, an average adult American reads up to 12 books a year.
This is an interesting and funny fact, but if we dig a little deeper, we will find out the following benefits behind reading these twelve books:
- Reading a book is a working (and cheap) way to relieve stress
- You can actually become smarter
- Reading improves your memory
- Reading improves your vocabulary
- Reading slows down cognitive decline
- Reading is a great way to entertain yourself
… and there’s more! In this article, we discuss 14 benefits of reading that (as we hope) may serve as an extra motivation to read more books.
Reading is a great way to relieve stress
Stress is an indispensable part of our daily lives. There is no way to get rid of it all and, as Mark Manson teaches us, all we have to do is to master the subtle art of dealing with it.
And one of the ways to deal with stress is by reading books. Whether it’s the burden of everyday responsibilities or something more serious, there are very few things that can’t be forgotten by a good story.
The feeling of being transported to an imaginary realm while reading a fictional novel or being invested in a real-life story is almost indescribable.
According to research conducted by the University of Sussex, it has been proven that reading is better to reduce stress than other activities like walking in a park or sitting down with a cup of tea. Just six minutes of reading alone is enough to reduce stress by more than two-thirds.
This quote by Dr. Seus emphasizes well how great books can be to help you cope with stress:
“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back relax, all you need is a book.”
Reading makes you smarter
Now this one is easy. If you read more — you learn more. Regardless of the type of books you prefer, you still learn new things from every new book.
Do you like to read historical fiction? That’s awesome as it means you are very likely to acquire new knowledge about the historical period described in the book.
Enjoy sci-fi? Congrats! You will definitely come across theories of how our world and universe works.
There are more than 130 million books in the world, which means there is a pretty high chance that by even reading 12 books a year, you’ll learn something new and become smarter.
Reading improves your memory
As you train your body in the gym, you have to do some exercise with your brain too. And reading is one of the best ways to help you train and strengthen your brain and memory.
Scientific research proves that reading literally makes your brain think more. This is happening because there is no way to read and understand a book without immersing yourself in it.
For example, imagine you are reading a description of how a character looks. Your brain has to translate the words you are reading into visuals.
Moreover, everything you read in a book is logically connected. As a result, you have to remember a lot of details and keep them in your mind.
In a nutshell, reading can tremendously improve your memory over time and allow you to recall information faster.
Reading improves your vocabulary
This one should be a no-brainer. Since we were kids, we’ve been constantly told by adults that reading is the best way to improve our vocabulary.
Well, the good news is that there is truth to that.
Research has proven that those who start reading from an early age perform better in their academics which in turn helps them secure better job opportunities in the future.
Due to an increased vocabulary, your communication skills become inherently better as well.
Reading slows down cognitive decline
According to this research, people who are active readers, puzzle solvers, or chess players, might be two times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in comparison to those who do not practice such activities.
Activities like reading, puzzles, and chess stimulate our brain to work more and, as a result, we might have a healthier brain.
This study conducted by the Fisher’s center for Alzheimer’s is further proof that consistently reading from young to old age is really important in maintaining brain health.
Reading is fun
Books are like magic — we can travel to faraway places, read people’s minds and live thousands of lives without leaving our own room.
Take a story you like and a good evening full of emotions and excitement is guaranteed.
And if you think that reading is for introverts only — think again.
Have you ever tried reading a book for a book club and then discussing it with your friends? Have you ever tried reading a book with your partner or kids? All of these are entertaining social activities that make us closer to those we love.
You can live longer if you read a lot of books
One study called “The Survival Advantage of Reading Books” has examined the correlation between the reading habits of people and the risk of mortality in those groups.
The findings from twelve years of research suggested that people who were active book readers lived two years longer than people who didn’t read books at all.
Also, the study found out that those who were regular readers (meaning they read at least thirty minutes every day) also lived longer than those who didn’t read every day.
Reading improves critical thinking
Habitual readers have definitely experienced the feeling of being fully immersed in a book.
And by being immersed in a book, we start making assumptions about the story’s development. As we read more, we notice more details and hints about the plot. We start seeing correlations between typical types of characters and their actions.
And this ability to calmly and unbiasedly analyze a piece of writing can develop and improve your critical thinking skills.
As a result, it’s inevitable that we end up making more mature, calculated, and accurate judgments in our lives as well.
Reading makes you more tolerant and empathetic
This benefit of reading is relevant for those who read a lot of fiction. By reading fiction, we expose ourselves to the descriptions of the inner worlds of characters. We read about their thoughts, hidden emotions, and beliefs.
And, according to the research, this actually makes us better at understanding other people. Scientists call skills we need to understand others “theory of mind” and research suggests that reading fiction helps us develop our theory of mind.
This quote from John Green sums it up:
“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.”
Reading improves your social skills
We already know that reading helps us become better at understanding other people’s minds and behaviors. It goes without saying that reading a lot of books makes us smarter and enriches our vocabulary.
And according to the study by Sarah Miles and Deborah Stipek, there is a correlation between good social skills and literacy skills in children under 5th grade.
However, we have to say that reading alone cannot do wonders. Yes, it has its benefits for social skills but it is our job to practice these social skills in real-life situations with other people.
Reading improves your mental health
Researchers at the University of Sussex studied how our body and brain react to different activities that are believed to reduce our stress levels.
The results have shown that listening to music can reduce stress by 61 percent and drinking tea can lower our stress by 54 percent.
However, reading wins above all of these. By reading only six minutes a day, we can reduce our stress by 68 percent.
Sometimes books are also used to treat specific mental disorders. This form of therapy using books is called Bibliotherapy and has been used by doctors all over the world for some time now.
All in all, we couldn’t agree more with this quote by Pat Williams:
“Books are healthy food for your brain and dessert for your soul. Books are one of the few proven sources of mental exercise known to man.”
Reading improves your concentration
Reading is an activity that requires your brain to be fully concentrated in order to comprehend all of the information.
You know that it’s true if you’ve ever tried reading a book and watching TV simultaneously.
The research shows that there is a strong connection between one’s reading skills and the ability to pay attention. Our attention spans are longer and better if we are active readers.
This benefit of reading is crucial for us right now — in the age where we are used to quickly changing focus from one short text on social media to another.
Reading inspires others to read more
If you read a lot, it is very likely that you will eventually recommend to your friend a book they will love. Bookbloggers inspire others to read more books. People like sharing recommendations and this is what makes reading contagious.
And research proves this to be true. According to a Scholastic report, the contagious nature of reading is vivid in families with reading parents and children.
Turns out that parents read aloud at home to 40 percent of children aged 6-10 who enjoy reading for fun when they are older. It is important to note that parents should keep reading aloud to their children even after kids know to read on their own.
Reading can help you sleep better
According to the Mayo Clinic, creating a reading ritual before going to sleep is one of the effective ways to sleep better.
By sticking to a regular reading schedule before going to bed, you create a pattern for your brain and body. As a result, when you start reading a book in the evening, your body already knows what comes next and starts preparing for sleep.
In addition, reading also increases the levels of serotonin and melatonin, ensuring that the reader can enjoy a night of deep and peaceful sleep.
Important questions about reading and its benefits
We hope that the benefits of reading we have named will motivate you to pick a book and start reading it. However, there are still a few questions about the reading we would like to answer.
Why is reading important?
The most important thing about reading is that it develops our minds and is crucial to be successful and happy in today’s society.
It may sound like something unreal, but there are still people and children who cannot or do not have the opportunity to learn to read. And reading is fundamental to become fully integrated into the modern world.
What are the skills of reading?
Reading skills may be interpreted as one’s abilities necessary to fully understand the written text. And this understanding of a written text is also called reading comprehension. According to Understood.org, the following skills are considered as major reading skills:
- decoding skills
- fluency skills
- vocabulary skills
- construction and cohesion of written text and sentences
- reasoning skills
- memory and attention skills
What are the 4 types of reading?
There are four reading techniques that are used to describe different approaches to reading and understanding the text:
- intensive reading
- extensive reading
At Booklyst, we enjoy books and believe in the power and benefits of reading.
To conclude, this quote by the famous British novelist, Roald Dahl, beautifully sums up the importance of reading:
“If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books”