Why You Should Be Reading Books

In a recent Huffington Post article, posted 10/12/2013, journalist Laura Schocker, listed “seven unconventional reasons why you absolutely should be reading books.” We know that we read for enjoyment, entertainment, a high school English assignment, etc, but reading can be more than that.

Schocker starts with a study published in Science that reading literary works cultivates a skill known as “theory of mind” which is described as the “ability to ‘read’ the thoughts and feelings of others.”

The other six are:
Reading can chill you out. A study in 2009 showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress, better than listening to music, having a cup of tea/coffee, or taking a walk. The participants in the study relaxed in just six minutes after starting to read.

It could help keep your brain sharp. A study published in the journal Neurology found that those who “engaged in mentally stimulating activities (such as reading) earlier and later in life experienced slower memory decline compared to those who didn’t.”

And it might even stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Research published in 2001, stated that adults “who engage in hobbies that involved the brain, like reading or puzzles, are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease.” Researchers were quick to point out that there is an association between reading and not having the disease, not a cause and effect. They said, “Just as physical activity strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones, intellectual activity strengthens the brain against disease.”

Reading may help you sleep better. Sleep experts recommend establishing a regular de-stressing routine before bed to calm your mind and cue your body for sleep. Reading can be a great way to do so.

Getting lost in a good book could also make you more empathetic. Research in the Netherlands conducted two experimental studies which showed that “people who were ’emotionally transported’ by a work of fiction experienced boosts in empathy.” The “self-reported empathic skills significantly changed over the course of a week for readers of a fictional story by fiction authors Arthur Conan Doyle or José Saramago.”

Self-help books, on the other hand, can ease depression. A University of Glasgow study “showed that reading self-help books combined with support sessions on how to use them, was linked with lower levels of depression after a year, compared to patients who received typical treatments.”

Read the complete article and link to the research at:

by David Weinhold

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