The Benefits of Reading!

Ahh Reading! An honest pastime and one I indulge in at every opportunity. Of course when I say 'I' I really mean 'we' since Jo and I read the same books at the same time naturally! Jo and I don't have a favourite genre. We'll read anything. We have a particular liking for the classics, Jayne Eyre is a favourite, and we've read most of Dickens. We love a bit of Horror and Stephen King is a must have when he has a new book out, as is Dean Koontz. We also read contemporary romance in all its forms and we have several go to authors when it comes to the paranormal romance genre. We've read Lord of the Rings so often Jo's copy is falling apart! I always thought if Jo ever wrote a book it would be a novel, how wrong I was on that score, but of course I'm eternally grateful that she wrote 'Web to success'. We use reading as a way of winding down from the day, I guess you could say it's a way of switching Jo's brain off! It's almost meditative. The simple act of concentrating on the story, visualising the characters and the action, leaves no room for her brain to worry over other 'stuff'. There’s nothing quite like that book that you can’t put down till you know what happens next.

Reading a good book is like getting a warm hug from a close friend.

Gone are the days of having to save hard, or wait for birthdays and Christmas, to buy the hard copy, paperback or hardback. (Jo still buys the ‘real’ book for authors on her ‘must have’ list – yes she even has a list for that!) Our kindle, we’re on our third one, (one got sat on and one gave up the ghost) is packed full of thousands of e-books. Hundreds sit there unread, waiting for that precious thing called ‘time’ in order to be read. There is always another good book to buy no matter how many sit unread.

The benefits of reading are multitudinous. Who’d have thought that reading actually has, surprisingly, lots of health benefits?

Reading gives muscle to your memory. Reading gives your brain a different kind of workout than watching TV or listening to the radio. Reading gives your workout more staying power. Books are good company during a workout. A suck-you-in plot may keep you on an exercise machine longer to finish a captivating chapter. Reading keeps your brain young. Digging into a good book can literally take years off your mind. Reading can melt away stress. Snuggling up with a good read tamps down levels of unhealthy stress hormones. Reading boosts your vocabulary. Researchers estimate that we learn 5 - 15 percent of all the words we know through reading Reading improves empathy. Stories provide life-changing perspective. Getting wrapped up in the lives of characters strengthens your ability to understand others’ feelings. Reading can encourage life goals. Reading about someone who overcame obstacles may motivate you to meet your own goals Reading helps you feel more connected. When you identify with characters in a book, you experience a kind of real-life relationship

Reading can brighten your day. A happy ending can lift your spirits, but novels may drum up positive feelings in more subtle ways too.

Read more on these benefits here… Boring! I hear you shout, but you don’t have to read informational text books, self help books (cough) and dreary manuals to get the benefits. To give you the motivation (remember last weeks’ blog!) to lose yourself in a beautiful story, here are seven benefits of reading literary fiction:

It amplifies your creativity which is good for self-awareness.

You can discover your hero. We all love a good hero or heroine! It helps you empathize with the characters and therefore people you meet outside of books. It helps you find yourself. You learn how to approach new obstacles. You learn to have superior focus. Don’t forget the brain behaves like a muscle.

It gives you inner peace and reduces stress. Read more here...

Claudia Hammond, Psychology broadcaster “We live in an age where we can spend hours bingeing on TV box sets or surfing social media. But despite these distractions, reading remains a popular pastime...We know that reading is good for us as it improves our literacy, but what other benefits does it offer?”

1. Characters we love, or love to hate.

Intriguing characters can often hook us into a story, but reading helps us to develop our own ideas and personalities as we compare our reactions and beliefs to those in the story.

2. Hidden health benefits

Taking the time to immerse yourself in a book provides numerous health benefits. But reading does more than just help us to learn about our own personalities. It’s good for our health, too. Studies show that it can increase our emotional intelligence as we understand a range of perspectives and motivations. There is some evidence that mental stimulation is one of the factors that can delay the onset of dementia and reading is among the activities that can help to keep the brain active. It is far from a passive pastime. When we read we create mental simulations of the activities, sights and sounds of scenes in a story, blending these with our own memories and experiences, all of which stimulates the neural pathways. As well as this, research suggests that reading for 30 minutes a week increases health and wellbeing. Reading for pleasure has been found to improve our confidence and self-esteem, providing the grounding we need to pursue our goals and make life decisions. It can also aid our sleep and reduce feelings of loneliness. To the onlooker, reading can appear to be a solitary and passive activity. But the simple act of picking up a book can do us a world of good.

3. Armchair education

When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters… you alone, using your imagination, create a world. Of course, reading is also a great way of taking you to a new world. We could read historical accounts about the Napoleonic Wars or Victorian workhouses, but they would not captivate us in the way War and Peace or Oliver Twist does. We can watch these stories unfold in film and TV adaptations, but when we read them instead we actively engage with the subject, characters and surroundings. So although our primary motivation for turning the pages might be escapism and relaxation, we are actually learning and broadening our knowledge, even if we don't realise that's happening.


We don’t need an excuse to read. Health benefits are just a welcome side effect to the sheer joy of reading a good, engaging story with characters we feel for, and can relate to, and a plot that keeps us reading, chapter after chapter, well past our bedtime. Jo even has a T-shirt with the slogan ‘I read past my bedtime’, not a surprise really!

Finally here are a couple of videos which I think sum it up perfectly. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

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