Celebrate National Book Lovers Day With These 8 Benefits of Reading
7 minute read
Are you ready to be whisked off to a foreign land and dive into an adventure? Maybe you would rather set sail on an inner journey of enlightenment and self-realization. Perhaps a chance encounter with a historical figure will leave you enriched and informed.
All of these things are possible if you look between the covers of a book. Reading is more than something you have to do in school or a pastime when you’re at the beach. Reading should be a fundamental part of your life. It can provide you with information and entertainment, and it’s also good for your health and well-being.
Here are more reasons to celebrate your love of books during this year’s National Book Lovers Day on August 9th.
1. Mental Stimulation
Your brain is a muscle, and like all muscles in your body, it requires exercise or stimulation to keep it strong and healthy. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that participating in intellectual activities such as reading or game playing might help delay or even prevent dementia in older adults.
One of the exciting aspects of this study was that a lifetime habit of reading wasn’t necessary to reap these benefits. Beginning to appreciate reading, even later in life, brings with it the benefits of increased mental stimulation and intellectual health.
2. Improved Memory
When you stimulate your brain by reading, you have a new world to familiarize yourself with along with new characters with unique backgrounds, thoughts, and nuances. On top of that, you have the whole story arc to connect in your brain as the plot weaves forward.
Each book gives you new things to remember, and at least while you’re reading that book, your brain remembers these things by forging new synapses and pathways, while strengthening existing ones. These activities help with your short-term memory comprehension and can also stabilize your moods.
3. Reduce Stress
Literary distractions give your brain a place to visit that is an escape from your day to day life and the stressors you constantly face. An article in the Telegraph points to a study by the University of Sussex that suggests even six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two thirds. This means that reading is one of the fastest ways to reduce stress.
There are several reasons why reading is so beneficial when you’re under stress. One of the main factors is that reading forces the brain to concentrate and distracts you from other issues and concerns. This, in turn, eases tension in your muscles and slows your heart rate.
| Related: 9 Ways and Benefits of Managing Stress |
4. Enhanced Social Skills
If your image of a reader is a person who sits in a corner, nose in a book, unable to socialize effectively, then it’s time to adjust your assumptions. While reading can be an escape, it also gives readers a better “theory of mind.” Theory of mind is basically the ability to empathize.
An article in Science Magazine dove deeper into this subject and explained that understanding the mental states of others, even fictional characters, is a crucial skill that is necessary for social relationships. The study looked at several groups of reading and non-reading people and tested them on their theory of mind abilities. It was concluded that engaging with art is beneficial for social success.
5. Readers Are Involved
Going beyond social skills, it appears readers are more civic-minded than others. An article on the social effects of book reading points out that the percentage of book readers who volunteer for non-profits is 42 percent, whereas the non-readers who volunteer is only 25 percent.
The study also revealed that 82 percent of readers donate to non-profits while 66 percent of non-readers do, which suggests that book readers also give more.
6. Greater Vocabulary = Higher Intellect
Reading improves your vocabulary, and studies have shown a direct correlation between vocabulary and intelligence. The really interesting thing about reading comprehension and vocabulary is that it may be cumulative.
A study on the influence of reading revealed that a Matthew Effect occurs while reading, which means that there is an exponential difference between those with large vocabularies and those with smaller ones. This difference grows over time.
The study discovered that above-average readers experienced a higher rate of vocabulary growth than average readers. The results of this suggest that the earlier you begin a reading habit, the stronger your vocabulary will be, which may lead to a greater intellect.
7. Improved Concentration
Distractions surround us constantly. If there aren’t distractions, we create them by checking our phones and our social media accounts obsessively. Reading forces the brain to focus on one thing. Through repetition, you’re training your brain to avoid distractions and strengthening your ability to process data through concentration.
8. Free Entertainment
You don’t need to buy a book to read it, little libraries and traditional ones abound. Even if you do decide to buy a book, the price of the book when compared to the hours of enjoyment and entertainment you get is extremely small.
Books bring the world to your hands, so you can choose the type of entertainment you want, and you can easily put down one and opt for another.
When discussing reading for entertainment, it’s essential to point out that the level of enjoyment that readers experience is key. The fact is, people love reading whether or not they are encouraged to do because of the benefits. The pleasure involved in reading shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Bottom Line
For those people that already love books, the benefits of reading are perhaps an excuse to read more, as is Book Lovers Day. But book lovers will read regardless of any proven or scientifically theorized benefits they receive, and they do it for the love of words and the worlds they can experience.
Those people who don’t read may find the benefits compelling enough to inspire them to open up a book and check out what they’ve been missing. There’s a whole world between the pages of every book, it’s up to you, as the reader, to set the characters free and experience their story.