None of us should need a reason to read. Reading wouldn’t be labeled with such importance if there weren’t obvious, universal benefits. But often these benefits seem vague and perhaps we just gloss them over. People say reading makes you smarter, but what do they actually mean when they say that? In an effort to pare down the subjectivity and examine the comprehensive research, here are 15 ways reading is incredibly beneficial to absolutely anyone:
1. Reading boosts empathy.
According to new research from Boston College, fiction experiences increase a reader’s empathy. Fiction, according to the study, “presents a simulation of real-world problems, and therefore has real consequences for the reader.”
2. Reading improves math skills.
Could it be? Research would suggest so. A study found that students who read for pleasure made more progress in math than their counterparts. But you should probably still do your math homework.
3. Reading is therapy.
A study found that children’s literature is a “therapeutic tool for facilitating emotional growth and healing.” The study also provided a list of children’s books for counseling interventions.
4. Reading is the best way to relax.
Want to decompress? Psychologists found that even six minutes of reading a day can be enough to reduce stress by two thirds.
5. Reading improves rational thinking and comfort with uncertainty.
Researchers in Toronto found that reading lessens the need for “cognitive closure”, which in turn also increases rationality and creativity. This whole reading this is starting to sound sort of perfect.
6. Reading slows cognitive decline, lowers the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Another study found that the more cognitive activity you have throughout your life, the slower you experience cognitive decline. Have we mentioned that the best cognitive activity is reading?
7. Reading improves memory and learning capacity.
Dr. Ken Pugh says that “parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging”. By providing more work for your brain, you increase your learning capacity as well as your memory.
8. Reading encourages self-reflection.
Scientists in Liverpool found that reading the classics, especially poetry, increased activity in the right side of the brain, which is associated with autobiographical memory. Side note: The study also noted that “[s]erious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain.”
9. Reading promotes civic engagement and involvement in public life.
The National Endowment for the Arts reports that those who are involved in art, literature among these, have an increased presence in public life. The study also found that readers attend museums, theaters, concerts, and even sporting events more than their counterparts.
10. Reading boosts vocabulary.
Sure, this is obvious. Reading helps with elocution. Who wouldn’t benefit a little from that?
11. Reading increases your own writing.
You’ve heard it a million times: the best way to become a better writer is to read more. It has scientific backing, too.
12. Reading makes you sleep better.
According to a report from Harvard Medical School, reading is one of the best activities to prepare for bed since it is a soothing activity. It also doesn’t involve as much LED lighting, which deters sleep.
13. Reading makes you happier.
A 2011 study found that reading print media was negatively associated with major depressive disorder. Interestingly enough, the study did find a positive correlation between major depressive disorder and popular music. Better steer clear of Miley, y’all.
14. Reading is linked to better job prospects.
A sociologist from the University of Oxford reported that more reading in your formative years is directly correlated to better job prospects as a working professional. According to the study, reading was the only out-of-class activity linked to success down the road.
15. Reading is sexy.
Thought Catalog is no stranger to this topic. Intelligence is sexy, we know that. And if you’ve picked up on anything through the course of this list, it should be that reading increases emotional and cognitive intelligence. Ergo, by transitive law, reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an activity that could have such a profound effect on an individual. So, why exactly aren’t you reading?