Why Reading Novels is Beneficial to Your Health
For many people, reading books has been an increasing source of relaxation during this particularly difficult year. According to Publishers Weekly, book sales have been soaring, with 322 million books sold in the first half of 2020. With more children learning at home, publishers have witnessed a rise in interest in social justice-related publications as well as at-home education materials.
Adult fiction, on the other hand, has seen the most dramatic surge in demand, with a 23 percent increase between May and June alone. People want to get away from their daily lives, and what better way to do so than by reading a romance novel, a thriller, or a work of contemporary literary fiction? The entertainment value of books is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how they can improve your life. There are numerous advantages to reading books.
According to studies, just 30 minutes of reading every day can help you reset your body, decreasing your blood pressure, pulse rate, and stress levels. Reading, on the other hand, can help your mental health by allowing you to make sense of a difficult past or current problem, and so experience feelings of hope. According to Psychology Today, bibliotherapy, or the use of books and other forms of literature to support a patient's mental health, has been practiced by therapists since the early twentieth century, but its roots can be traced all the way back to the Greeks and Egyptians, who saw libraries as sacred and healing spaces.
So, what are the advantages of reading books in particular?
Reading improves one's verbal intelligence.
"The more you read," Dr. Seuss famously said, "the more things you will know." The more you study, the further you'll travel." Even children's books, according to study from the University of California – Berkeley, expose their readers to 50 percent more words than primetime television. So, if you want to learn more, keep reading. Increasing one's vocabulary early in childhood, in particular, leads to higher IQ test scores later in life. Children's brain growth is also aided by reading to them, according to studies. As a result, read to your children!
Reading expands your vocabulary.
The "Matthew effect," as it is known, has been addressed by reading scholars since the 1960s. "Trusted Source," a concept derived from Matthew 13:12 in the Bible, which states, "Whoever possesses will be given more, and they will have an abundance." Whoever does not have will have their possessions removed from them." The Matthew effect encapsulates the idea that the privileged get richer while the poor get poorer — a concept that relates to both money and words. According to research, students who read books on a regular basis, starting at a young age, build huge vocabularies over time. And the size of your vocabulary has an impact on many aspects of your life, from standardized test scores to college admissions and job opportunities.
According to Cengage research done in 2019, 69 percent of employers prefer to hire people with "soft" talents, such as the ability to interact effectively. Reading books is the most effective approach to broaden your vocabulary by learning new terms in context.
Reading is a stress reliever.
Isn't this sufficient on its own? We're all so stressed out that if a trustworthy "cool pill" with no hazardous side effects became available, it'd be flying off the shelves in no time. However, according to a 2009 University of Sussex study, these wonder medications are currently available in bookstores and libraries around the world.
Participants in the study saw their heart rates and muscle tension drop faster while they read novels than when they listened to music, drank tea or coffee, or even walked. "It really doesn't matter what book you read," the study's director, Dr. David Lewis, said afterwards. "By losing yourself in a genuinely captivating novel, you may escape from the problems and tensions of the common world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination."
Aids in the relief of depression symptoms
"Comfort from imagined objects is not an imaginary consolation," observed British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton. People who suffer from depression frequently feel alone and cut off from the rest of the world. And there's a sensation that reading can occasionally alleviate. Reading fiction allows you to briefly leave your own reality and become immersed in the characters' imagined experiences. Nonfiction self-help books can also give you ways for dealing with symptoms. That's why the National Health Service of the United Kingdom has launched Reading Well, a Books on Prescription initiative in which medical specialists prescribe self-help books chosen by medical experts for specific diseases.
Improve Sleep Quality Through Reading
According to The Mayo Clinic, sleep deprivation can have a substantial influence on your mind and body, affecting your mood and capacity to focus on everyday duties. Doctors advise easing into sleep with a bedtime regimen and limiting light and noise exposure. Reading is a great method to unwind before bedtime because it is both screen-free and peaceful. "I would unquestionably recommend reading before bed over staring at your phone," Bacow says. "Reading can help you sleep better by slowing down your brain waves and putting you in a relaxed condition."
According to a recent poll conducted by Sleep Junkie, a mattress and sleep product review site, those who read frequently before bed (five or more evenings per week) reported falling asleep faster and having higher overall sleep quality than those whose bedtime routines did not include a book. Because reading allows you to relax, it makes you asleep. Books don't have the same harsh effect as computers and other displays, putting less pressure on our eyes; according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, persons who read on iPads before bed take 10 minutes longer to fall asleep than those who read actual books. Furthermore, if reading before bed becomes a habit, your body will recognize the pattern and switch to sleep mode when you begin reading. When combined with a relaxing environment such as a couch or bed, you'll be sleeping off in no time.
It's possible that reading will even help you live longer.
A study on long-term health and retirement Trusted Source studied a group of 3,635 adults for 12 years and discovered that those who read books lived an average of 2 years longer than those who didn't read or read magazines and other types of media. The study also found that persons who read for more than 3 1/2 hours a week had a 23% higher chance of living longer than those who didn't read at all.
Literature Can Help You Develop Empathy.
Fiction reading aids in the development of emotional intelligence in addition to knowledge acquisition. Reading literature improved "Theory of Mind" (ToM) among test subjects, according to research published in the journal Science in 2013. ToM is described as the ability to recognize and understand beliefs, goals, intents, and viewpoints that differ from one's own. When we put ourselves in the shoes of a character, we're obliged to analyze their reality as if it were our own, and we usually end up widening our definition of "normal" or "relatable."
Surprisingly, the ToM boost has been found to be strongest in stories where the characters' motivations are unclear or unexplained (in contrast to a thrilling but predictable bestseller, for example). The reader is essentially forced to engage those emotional muscles by the burden of determining characters' wishes and intents for oneself, and real-life empathy is a byproduct.
Improve Your Communication Skills by Reading Books
Reading can help you expand your vocabulary (#TBT to elementary school), but did you know it can also help you communicate better? According to the International Journal of English Linguistics, reading can help you command distinct memories of words, making them easier to recall for usage in ordinary conversation (rather than memorizing from a vocab list) (IJEL). For example, if you come across a character who is "flummoxed" and don't know what that term means, you'll probably check it up. Then, the next time you want to express your confusion and surprise, you'll be able to recollect the word you took so long to learn.
According to the IJEL, if you grasp sentences and structures of written material and can master reading comprehension, foreign languages become easier to acquire, increasing your general level of communication with people, even those who speak other languages. According to Bacow, "research findings demonstrate that strengthening empathy increases communication." "As a result, reading is fantastic conversation starters and can help people open up."
Aids in the prevention of age-related cognitive decline
The National Institute on Aging is a federal agency that studies the effects of aging. Reading books and magazines, according to Trusted Source, is a good method to keep your mind active as you get older. Although there is no solid evidence that reading books prevents diseases like Alzheimer's, studies suggest that seniors who read and solve arithmetic problems on a daily basis preserve and increase their cognitive function. The sooner you begin, the better. Patients who have engaged in mentally challenging activities throughout their lives are less likely to develop plaques, lesions, and tau-protein tangles found in the brains of people with dementia, according to a 2013 study done by Rush University Medical Center.
Reading Assists with Trauma and Grief Processing
The two claws of the same beast: agony, are grief and trauma. "Every day is so hard for those who are mourning," Bacow adds, "and when you lose someone, reading can make that day easier to endure." "Autobiographies and self-help books are particularly useful in this situation since they allow you to read about how someone else dealt with a similar situation. Hope is what bereaved people want, and these types of literature can provide it."
A word of caution: Nonfiction books about sorrow and trauma may be your best bet if you prefer to work through a stressful circumstance. However, if reliving your experience through someone else's narrative is too traumatic, fiction can create a sense of escapism, which may be more beneficial to your mental health and welfare.