10 (Lesser Known) Benefits of Reading

We can all reap the tremendous amazing benefits of reading, some of which may surprise you!


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Words on a page have incredible power. Getting lost in a good book transports us to distant lands and magical places that only exist in our imaginations. The words written by someone who lived centuries ago can reach across time long after the person has gone. They say “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and books harness the potential to open minds, inspiring change and inciting revolutions.

And yet as rewarding and entertaining books can be, a poll of 1,000 adults in the United States found that 28 percent hadn’t read one in the past year at all. The world is full of pacifiers and distractions. We find ourselves mindlessly scrolling on our phones or spacing out to hours of television. 

While it does our brains good to have some downtime to tune out and turn off, we can also reap the tremendous amazing benefits of reading, some of which may surprise you!

More reading = less stress

Find yourself getting stressed often? Pick out a good book. Neuropsychologists found that 6 minutes of sustained reading each day can reduce stress by as much as 68%. Imagine what reading for an hour can do! 

Fiction books make you more empathetic

A study in the Netherlands found that people who read fiction become more emotionally empathetic. Fiction reading emotionally transports the reader into the story which leads to higher ability to feel compassion for others.

It’s free entertainment!

When you find yourself complaining about the cost of television subscriptions, head to the local library or download a free ebook. If you own a Kindle, Amazon has tons of free classics. On the other hand, whenever you finish a good book, pay it forward and pass it on to a friend as a gift.

Reading keeps your mind younger

A study published in Neurology looked at 294 participants who passed away at the average age of 89. Those who kept their minds active through activities like reading earlier and later in life stayed younger mentally compared to those who hadn’t. Those who read later in life enjoyed a 32% lower rate of mental decline, while those who hadn’t experienced a mental decline 48% faster than average. 

A good book could prevent Alzheimer’s

Research published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in 2001 indicates that adults who keep their minds sharp through hobbies that stimulate the brain like reading or puzzles may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Self-help books ease depression

Self-help books really have the power to do just that. A study published in the PLOS ONE journal put self-help books to the test by observing their effects on readers. After a year of reading self-help books, patients experienced lower levels of depression compared to those who only received standard treatment.

Reading prevents brain damage

You may already realize that reading increases your vocabulary. New research indicates that a large vocabulary boosts what is known as “cognitive reserve”, a coping method of your brain to prevent declines or damage. A lifetime of reading builds cognitive reserve, protecting against neurological disorders common in old age.

Reading is contagious!

Parents listen up! Want a surefire way to get your kids to read more? Start reading yourself! Scholastic released a new report showing how children who were read to out loud have a 40% higher chance of reading five to seven days a week when they get older. 

Mystery books build strong analytical skills

“Whodunit” books with a mystery to solve help the brain develop analytical cognitive abilities. Even if you don’t solve the mystery, you’ll still improve critical thinking skills in a fun way.

Balances the downside of bad news

Many media outlets, in pursuit of better ratings, report a much higher percentage of bad news. Reading good news and uplifting stories has the power to balance the downside of watching the news such as increased anxiety. Reading good news has the power of increasing happiness and life satisfaction while also improving the well-being of those around you.

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