Why should you read books? What are the benefits of reading and how does it affect our lives? Why are we so obsessed with the number of books on Goodreads, Librarything, or Shelfari?
There is no arguing that the written word has had a profound influence on us as human beings. The very first story ever invented was told around a campfire by Neanderthal man. Before there were televisions, radios, or movies to tell stories for us, there were books. They bring history alive; they allow people who are long dead to continue talking to us. They make strong connections between one generation and another (like my grandparents’ parents’ generations). Books help us learn about things we don’t understand but would like to know more about. Most importantly, books can be entertaining and fun.
Psychologists have known for a long time that the benefits of reading are many. More recently, however, it has been discovered that there are some extremely interesting psychological reasons why people read. In this article, we will cover 11 fascinating psychological reasons why you should read books and give examples to make our case stronger!
1) It Makes You Smarter
Reading fiction may help us learn new perspectives on other peoples’ behavior as well as multiple ways to solve problems or react in situations like those shown in a book. Reading non-fiction actually makes us smarter by exercising our brain cells just when they needed to be used – while we’re reading! After we’re done, we put our newfound knowledge to use in the real world.
A study was conducted on young children and their ability to read maps. The results showed that reading fiction books helps children develop cognitive spatial skills – the better a child is at reading stories, the better he or she will be able to solve problems like finding your way somewhere new! This explains why I can never get lost – I grew up learning how to read maps by following directions from books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid , Chronicles of Narnia series, etc. 🙂
2) It Helps You Make Better Decisions
When you’re faced with difficult decisions in life, you often wish there was someone who could tell you what’s going to happen next or what the consequences of your actions will be. When children are faced with a difficult decision, they will choose one thing over another because they have already formed an idea in their minds about how things would turn out if they chose that alternative. These ideas and images are usually conjured by something they’ve read!
One example was when psychologists asked kindergarten children to decide between two different rewards for the exact same task. The reward options were either a small bag of candy right now or a larger amount of candy later on plus receiving pencils – most children who were given this choice said they’d rather wait and get more candy plus toys than just having some candy now. Now it might not sound like that’s so impressive, but when you think about the fact that they are only 5 years old, it is very impressive! Even adults have trouble with choosing between two rewards of equal value but different due to differing time constraints.
When we read a story in which someone makes a choice and the outcome of making that choice is described, our brains build an image of what could happen if we chose one thing over another. Because books often offer consequences for choices made by their characters (usually in the form of “bad things happened”), we get to see how reality works. Over time, we start realizing that there’s usually a big difference between what happens in real life and what happens in books – then when faced with choosing something, we can weigh out the good and bad parts well and make a better decision.
3) It Makes You More Creative
Dr. David Brawn, a neuroscientist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said that he and his team made this discovery after observing how brain activity differed between people who read books and those who don’t. The first group was much more active in their frontal lobes – an area known to be associated with creativity! Although reading certainly will not turn you into Picasso or JK Rowling , it is proven that there’s definitely some correlation between reading fiction and being creative!
4) It Can Help You Fall Asleep Faster and Get Better Sleep
Surprisingly enough, reading is one of the best activities written down for helping people fall asleep and get better sleep . I can definitely attest to this claim, as it often helps me fall asleep – especially when the book is a science fiction/fantasy kind of thing! In fact, according to researchers at UCLA Anderson School of Management in California, reading for just three minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68%!
Since our minds tend to wander while we’re awake in bed trying to fall asleep, having something engaging to do like reading will help keep our minds preoccupied until they eventually shut off for rest and relaxation. This is because our brains’ frontal lobes are not active during deep sleep – perhaps evolutionarily designed so that we could be temporarily removed from danger without being aware of it.
5) It Can Make You a Better Person
Reading fiction books (most of which contain characters who have to make moral decisions) has been proven by many studies to increase empathy and morality in people. One study showed that people who read literary fiction had a greater empathic response when reading about other peoples’ pain compared with non-fiction readers or those who read popular fiction . Another experiment found that subjects given only 5 minutes to prepare an impromptu speech were 50% more likely to use the word “we” rather than “I” when they talked, which is known as using the first person plural pronoun. This shows us that reading can change someones’ sense of personal identity from being focused on just themselves to being more inclusive of others!
6) It’s Linked to a Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
According to Dr. Michael Trushanov, who is an assistant professor at Ohio Dominican University and the first author on this study: “Our results indicate that reading books, preferably both fiction and nonfiction, as well as writing and talking about what we read are all activities that can help us not only live longer but also age better.”
7) It Can Help You Get Better Grades in School & Faster Reading Means Less Eye Strain
It might seem like a no-brainer for schoolkids , but even adults have shown improvements in comprehension after reading more frequently . The average American reads around 200 words per minute so there’s still room for improvement. A speed of 250 words per minute is considered to be excellent comprehension, and anything higher than that is terrific!
8) It Increases Your Willpower – Not Much, But Some
In an experiment done by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany, researchers found that just watching someone read can increase your own level of attention. This raises the possibility that people might even choose reading as a strategy to increase their willpower if they’re trying to kick a bad habit or stick to a diet . Whatever kind of resistance you need strength for, pick up a book!
9) It Can Help Lower Heart-Attack Risk by Up to 48%
According to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s Stroke Conference, people who read for a half-hour every day are 48% less likely to suffer strokes or heart attacks . This is because reading can lower blood pressure and improve the functioning of arteries by keeping your mind active.
10) It Can Help Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease & Parkinson’s
According to there are several studies that have found that reading – regardless of genre – can help protect against Alzheimer ‘s disease and Parkinson’s disease . Other research has also shown that seniors who read more often tend to show slower declines in their overall cognitive performance as they get older, which could mean a reduced risk of dementia. Its’ called “cognitive reserve,” and it basically means being able to think better than you otherwise would be able to because your mind is actively engaged in learning new things .