The Benefits of Reading Fiction and Reasons Why Buy Second Hand Books

The Benefits of Reading Fiction and Reasons Why Buy Second Hand Books

The Benefits of Reading Fiction and Reasons Why Buy Second Hand Books

When it comes to reading books, there is a general assumption that nonfiction plays a better role in skill-development than fiction. It is also said that fiction is all about escapism and is just a waste of someone’s precious time. It takes us in an imaginary world that has nothing to do with the real world. Fiction can be a good time pass but it doesn’t help us to develop and understand the world. Here are the benefits of reading fiction and reasons why buy second hand books.

Benefits of Reading Fiction

Empathy: Imagining creates understanding

To put yourself in the shoes of others and grow your capacity for empathy, you can hardly do better than reading fiction.  Multiple studies have shown that imagining stories helps activate the regions of your brain responsible for better understanding others and seeing the world from a new perspective.

When the psychologist Raymond Mar analysed 86 fMRI studies, he saw substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals. That’s because when we read about a situation or feeling, it’s very nearly as if we’re feeling it ourselves.

Fiction helps you understand other people’s perspectives

Fiction has a power that no other form of communication does: the power to insert you fully and completely in someone else’s mind. It is a meld between the mind of the reader and the writer, and the minds of reader and character.

When you read fiction, you’re seeing the world through a character’s eyes.

Watching a character interact with the world around them is powerful. When studying history, a history book gives you a series of dry facts and anecdotes, but historical fiction sets you down in the middle of the time period, allows you to touch and taste the world around you, interact with contemporaries, solve problems. You understand the period contextually as you never could from the removed perspective of a history book.

Good fiction runs deep into the realms of psychology and philosophy. It explores and uncovers paradigm. It allows you to understand perspectives you’ve never seen before, both psychological and physical.

When you read fiction, you can be someone you’d never otherwise have the chance to become — another gender, another age, someone of another nationality or another circumstance. You can be an explorer, a scientist, an artist, a young and single mother or an orphaned cabin boy or a soldier.

When you take off the guise again — set down the book — you walk away changed. You understood things you didn’t understand before, and that shapes your worldview.

Disengagement: Reading is most effective for stress

Your brain can’t operate at maximum capacity 24/7—far from it. We all need periods of disengagement to rest our cognitive capabilities and get back to peak functionality.

Tony Schwartz talks about this as one of the most overlooked elements of our lives: Even the fastest racing car can’t win the race with at least one or two great pit stops. The same holds true for ourselves. If we don’t have “pit-stops” built into our days, there is now chance we can race at a high performance. Research at the University of Sussex shows that reading is the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out other methods like listening to music or taking a walk.

Within 6 minutes of silent reading, participants’ heart rates slowed and tension in their muscles eased up to 68%. Psychologists believe reading works so well because the mind’s concentration creates a distraction that eases the body’s stress.

Reading Fiction Improves Our Social Skills

Bookworms are generally portrayed in television programs and movies as socially backward. 

But this is not the case—a study has shown that reading fiction may help to improve and maintain social skills and understanding.

Social skills play an important part in the development of human beings. People need them while communicating and interacting with each other. Those who are fond of reading fiction tend to have stronger social skills than nonfiction readers. Reading fiction improves focus and concentration which makes people better at conversations and conflict resolution. It also teaches us how to communicate effectively. All this is essential to social interactions. 

Fiction provides us an endless supply of examples of social interaction from which to learn. We come across various scenes in fiction works that introduce us with effective ways to handle conflict in a variety of situations. Reading fiction also allows us to experience a range of moods and emotions that we don’t experience in our daily routine. When we see the characters experiencing these emotions, we begin thinking about how we might react in a similar situation. This prepares us for healthy future interactions. Research also suggests that people who read fiction are more likely to be volunteers or charitable.

Sleep: Regular readers sleep better

In fact, the kind of relaxed disengagement that reading creates can become the perfect environment for helping you sleep.

Creating a sleep ritual is a great way to build up a consistent sleep pattern. One of the key things is to have the last activity completely disengage you from the tasks of the rest of your day.

Buffer’s CEO, Joel, has a ritual in the evening of going for a short walk and, upon returning, going straight to bed and reading a fiction book. He reports that it helps him disengage from the work he’s done in the day and get the sleep he needs to wake up refreshed and ready for the next day.

Improved relationships: Books are a ‘reality simulator’

Life is complicated. Oftentimes, interpersonal relationships and challenges don’t have the simple resolutions we might like. How can we become more accepting of this reality? By using fiction to explore ideas of change, complex emotions and the unknown.

Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, proposed to the New York Times that reading produces a kind of reality simulation that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”

Memory: Readers have less mental decline in later life

We know that hearing a story is a great way to remember information for the long-term.

Now there’s also evidence that readers experience slower memory declined later in life compared to non-readers. In particular, later-in-life readers have a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline compared to their peers.

In addition to slower memory decline, those who read more have been found to show less characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2001 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Reading Fiction Makes Your Time Valuable 

Reading fiction is a valuable use of time for all of us. It increases our productivity, comprehension, literal thinking, and  problem-solving skills. By forcing ourselves into the shoes of another and by transporting ourselves into another world, we develop your capacity for imagination, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Above all, reading fiction makes us happy, satisfied, and feel good with our life.  

Inclusivity: Stories open your mind

Can reading Harry Potter make us more inclusive, tolerant and open-minded? One study says yes. (A butterbeer toast for everyone!)

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, tested whether the novels of Harry Potter could be used as a tool for improving attitudes toward stigmatized groups.

After 3 experiments in which students read passages of the books about discrimination, the students showed changed attitudes about everything from immigrants to gay students.

Mic reports that “the researchers credited the books with improving readers’ ability to assume the perspective of marginalized groups. They also claimed that young children, with the help of a teacher, were able to understand that Harry’s frequent support of “mudbloods” was an allegory towards bigotry in real-life society.”

Vocabulary: Fiction readers build more language

We all want the kind of vocabulary that can help us express ourselves and connect with others.

Fiction can help you get there. A 2013 Emory University compared the brains of people after they read fiction (specifically, Robert Harris’ Pompeii over nine nights) to the brains of people who didn’t read.

The brains of the readers showed more activity in certain areas than those who didn’t read—especially the left temporal cortex, the part of the brain typically associated with understanding language. Fiction reading would increase vocabulary size more than just non-fiction was one of our hypotheses — it makes sense, after all, considering that fiction tends to use a greater variety of words than non-fiction does. However, we hadn’t expected its effect to be this prominent.

Creativity: Fictions allows for uncertainty (where creativity thrives!)

In the movies, we often long for a happy ending. Have you noticed that fiction can be much more ambiguous?

That’s exactly what makes it the perfect environment for creativity. A study published in Creativity Research Journal asked students to read either a short fictional story or a non-fiction essay and then measured their emotional need for certainty and stability.

Pleasure: Reading makes you happier

All the above factors are great. But the very biggest reason I try to read every single day? I love it. It makes me happy, and I’m not alone—a survey of 1,500 adult readers in the UK found that 76% of them said reading improves their life and helps to make them feel good.

Other findings of the survey are that those who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.

It’s fascinating to me to think about how much has changed in American life and media during the years in the chart below, published by Pew. Somehow reading for pleasure has been able to hang in there throughout—even with the advent of the Internet, smart phones and so many more attention-zapping inventions.

Why Buy Second Hand Books

Nothing beats opening an old second hand crisp book and being transported to another world here at Usedbooksfactory. Unfortunately, the internet has displaced bookstores and second hand book shops, removing the allure of reading. Many people prefer to use e-readers or second hand books online rather than sifting through dusty shelves in search of an old classic.

The team at Usedbooksfactory enjoys collecting second hand books, but is it necessary to buy brand new copies? Used books will always have a special place in our hearts. So, here are a few of the reasons why we always go with the old, used copies:

1. Affordability of Second Hand Books

If you're sick of spending all of your money on brand-new books, second hand bookstores are the place to go. They not only have an old-world charm, but they will also keep you from walking around with an empty wallet. You'll be able to get twice as many books for the same price as a new one – a steal, courtesy of second hand books!

2. That musty old second hand book odor

Nothing beats the smell of a well-worn second hand book. Even if you're blindfolded, you'll know exactly where you are with just one step into a used bookstore.

3. Tracking down out-of-print editions with second hand books

The appeal of second hand stores is the possibility of finding out-of-print or first-edition copies of your favorite books. These editions are far more valuable and unique than newer versions – a must-have for any book enthusiast! You never know what you'll find hidden in a dusty stack of second books at a thrift store.

4. Relationship with previous owners of second hand books

It's true what they say: when a person owns a book, they leave a piece of themselves in it. There will always be little things about a second hand book that will connect you back to the previous owner, from a crinkle in a page to an underlined quote.

5. You can give a second hand book to someone else.

When you fall in love with a second hand book and give it to someone else to love, the object takes on a life of its own. We can't think of a better reason than that!

When it comes to reading books, there is a general assumption that nonfiction plays a better role in skill-development than fiction. It is also said that fiction is all about escapism and is just a waste of someone’s precious time. It takes us in an imaginary world that has nothing to do with the real world. Fiction can be a good time pass but it doesn’t help us to develop and understand the world. Here are the benefits of reading fiction and reasons why buy second hand books.


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