You know how we all wish that someone would tell us that there’s been a recent scientific discovery that eating tons of sugar is actually good for you? Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen. What blows my mind is that reading, unlike sugar, is good for you. Pleasure and the moral high ground in one fell swoop. Okay, I guess we all know that reading is good for us. Maybe you’re in a reading rut, or are trying to think of a reason you shouldn’t grab the remote and turn on Netflix. Here are 13 very specific ways that reading makes your life better.
1. It saves you money
Reading is free (or at least very cheap) entertainment. In general, other activities cost more money. We’re fortunate to live in a world with publiclibraries that have thousands of books that we can read for free! Many of us marveled at the Beast’s library as little girls. What we fail to realize is that all of us have access to libraries like that ourselves. You don’t even have to actually go to the library to get the free entertainment. Most libraries have ebooks or audiobooks that you can download for free without stepping foot outside your house. Talk about instant gratification.
2. It helps you foster more compassion
When you open a book, you’re able to see life from another person’s perspective. Having a new point of view is one of the best ways that you can gain more compassion for other people. According to this article, reading literary fiction helps the most. Which is a relief, because literary fiction is incredibly fun.
3. It makes you smarter
For real. Even if you’re not reading anything terribly difficult, reading more helps you become a smarter person. Don’t believe me? See the next several reasons reading is good for you. They all tie into how the habit of reading makes you more intelligent as a whole.
4. It gives you a bigger vocabulary
I always love it when I hear people mispronounce words because it means that they’re probably an avid reader. People who read a lot are exposed to a lot more new words, and sometimes you have to guess at how they’re pronounced.
5. It develops your analytical skills
Watching characters in books process situations and make decisions helps you get better at those skills too. It’s like exercise for your brain, trying to puzzle out the mystery or challenge and then seeing how the characters figure it out. Reading also simply increases your knowledge. With increased knowledge comes a greater ability to reason and analyze.
6. It gives you a better attention span
There are no flashing lights to keep you engrossed in a book. You have to exercise your brain muscles in order to keep focused. Reading certainly helps people of all ages gain, and keep, a better attention span. Focus doesn’t come easy in our present age. There are so many distractions and it’s so easy to fill up with bite-sized entertainment, whether that’s short instagram captions or a 20 minute tv show. Anything that can help foster a better attention span is worth doing.
7. It helps you have better conversations
Well read people can often have incredibly interesting and informative conversations, whether they’re debating over whether or not Ron and Hermione should have gotten together or relaying an interesting theory they learned about productivity. If you read a lot, there are lots of interesting things to talk about.
Sidenote: They totally should not have gotten together. They’re all wrong for each other.
8. It improves your writing skills
The more you read, the better you write. This is due to a lot of different things, such as the bigger vocabulary and better analytical skills we already discussed. Reading also helps you understand your genre better, absorb different writing styles, and increase your creativity. All of these are helpful in developing writing skills. I think that a lot of people subconsciously absorb grammar rules and spelling when they’re well read as well.
9. It reduces stress
This is one of those things that seems too good to be true, but here it is. Reading reduces stress. Part of this is the escapism in reading. You forget your own problems and worries while you’re immersed in a book. I’m pretty sure the rest can simply be explained by book magic, but the article has some other details.
10. It helps you connect to other people
We often think that reading is a purely solitary act and that it isolates people rather than bringing them together, but this isn’t usually true. Whether it’s at a book club or just in life in general, reading can help you connect to other people. In part, this is because it increases compassion. It also gives you the opportunity to learn about other people and better relate to them. It’s hard to connect to someone that you don’t understand and don’t know anything about. Reading helps bridge that gap.
11. It causes you to reevaluate your beliefs
This is usually a good thing. Sometimes we believe some pretty messed up things without realizing it. Imagine if no one read books and we all still believed the world was flat. Reading challenges your current beliefs and then either changes or sharpens what you believe–a wonderful thing.
12. It helps you understand yourself better
The more you’re exposed to different people, the more you learn about yourself by contrast. If you’re an American woman reading 18th century British literature, then you’ll probably realize that you have some different opinions on courtship. But if you’re an American woman reading 20th century American literature, you might realize that modern courtship has evolved quite a lot since then as well. The more you read, the more you understand the world, both past and present, and yourself.
13. It prevents memory loss
According to this article, the more you read, the better off you are in the long term. In my opinion, there are few things that contribute to long-term health so pleasurable as reading.