The multi-faceted benefits of a good book

by JoslynChase in Reading, Story Power

I’m guessing I don’t need to convince you that reading is a very good thing. You know that already, but perhaps it won’t go amiss for me to examine some of the top reasons why diving into a good book is a fabulous use of your time.

If you haven’t watched my short video about the unexpected benefits of reading thrillers, I hope you’ll take two minutes and do it now. And then, read on to find out more about all the good you’re getting when you indulge your craving for story.

Science is backing me up on this

You’re a reader. You instinctively know you reap benefits from reading, but you may be operating under the misapprehension that reading fiction is a guilty pleasure, the junk food of the book world. Not so, my friend!

In her article, “Why getting lost in a good book is so good for you, according to science,” Sarah DiGiulio outlines some of the rationale behind her premise and cites scientific research to support her arguments. Today I’ll touch on just a few.

Reading fiction increases your capacity for empathy

DiGiulio says, “Researchers found that reading satisfies the need for human connection because it can mimic what we feel during real social interactions.” Stories can perform like a simulator for the human experience, training us how to interact with others, expanding our world view, and helping us learn how to attach meaning to the events of our lives.

Reading a story allows us to try on another persona, see the world through someone else’s eyes and take a walk in their shoes. It can open windows on perspectives we never considered and throw wide doors on worlds we never knew existed.

While this is true, keep in mind that we are always free to slam those doors, close the book, and move on. Frankly, I’ve inadvertently cracked opened a few doors in my reading experience that I’ve promptly nailed shut. I’m in no way suggesting that every book will provide a beneficial, healthy reading experience and it’s up to each of us to choose wisely what to indulge in.

Reading fiction sharpens brain power

Neuroscience research has demonstrated that reading goes far beyond building a better vocabulary. It actually stimulates the neural networks inside the brain that bolster social cognitions and conceptual processing of abstract content.

People who read on a regular basis are less subject to cognitive decline and studies have shown that they live longer than their counterparts who don’t read consistently. As for quality of life, those of us who know the pleasures of losing ourselves in a good book can vouch for that.

Reading fiction provides a mini-vacation for the brain

Sitting down with an absorbing book is an escape from the stressors of everyday life, giving us the opportunity to take a break from it all. Studies show that escape into a good story can help with mood management and stress relief.

There’s an actual term for this—transportation—and it means “the act of losing yourself in a book.” So, whether you’re just sitting down for your regular fiction fix or you simply need a break from the pressures of the day, pick up a good book and enjoy the multi-faceted benefits of reading!

How about you? What benefits do you get from reading? Have a favorite book that allows you to “get away from it all?” Share with us in the comments.

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